INDIA v ENGLAND 3rd TEST
26th November 2016
England have always performed well when their backs are against the wall but the wall that’s facing them right now is sturdier. Turning pitches, hungry batsmen and relentless spin attack – it’s just a snippet of what’s been thrown at Alastair Cook’s men in India. But, the PCA Stadium at Mohali is one of the fastest in India and should give a ray of hope to the visitors. The third Test begins from Saturday, November 26.
There’s a catch to the Mohali story though, which has presented a raging turner last time India played here against South Africa. In under three days, they packed the Proteas off by 108 runs. However, the trend of setting spinning tracks doesn’t seem to be the case for this series as we already witnessed two sporting wickets that lasted full five days. All this makes one wonder if England will have a shot of coming back in the series.
Virat Kohli has backed his intent with runs in this series and that’s covering the glaring batting inconsistencies of his team. Murali Vijay is yet to get going after his ton at Rajkot while K.L. Rahul has the baggage of twin failures from Vizag. Cheteswar Pujara is the lone exception and even Ajinkya Rahane is finding it tough, making this a very vulnerable middle order.
The frailties of the top order are somewhat offset by the fighting spirit of their lower order led by Ravichandran Ashwin. Wriddhiman Saha is out of this Test which means a rare game for Parthiv Patel. A pitch that suits swing bowling could mean a chance for Bhuvneswar Kumar ahead of Ishant Sharma. A non-spinning track could mean a toss-up between Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav.
For England, Jos Buttler will replace the struggling Ben Duckett which should give them a chance to attack the spinners. Stuart Broad could miss with a foot injury which means Chris Woakes will slot straight into the playing XI. There’s also a case for replacing Zafar Ansari who looked timid with his spin at Vizag and was scarcely used. A case for Gareth Batty, perhaps!
The torchbearers for England have been Ben Stokes and Joe Root, who have shown the right technique and temperament to keep the Indian bowlers at bay. Haseeb Hameed looked the right deal at the top of the order and Cook will hope that there are enough runs on the board for his side to make a dash.
India are huge favorites to win at Mohali, irrespective of the pitch and that’s evident from the odds on offer. An Indian win is favored at 1.62 (Ladbrokes) while England win is offered at 4.33 (Ladbrokes). It’s not entirely out of their capability and backing England to pull-off a win isn’t a suicidal punt.
James Anderson looked to get back into form at Vizag and with Broad set to miss this Test, will have added responsibility. Odds of 5.00 (William Hill) make him a decent punt to be England’s best bowler. Among the batsmen, Kohli at odds of 3.50 and Root at odds of 4.50 should be top of your list to be their side’s best batsman.