IndiaSports

Pink Ball Test: India face England at Motera, focus on WTC final

Ahmedabad: After winning the second Test convincingly, India will take on England in the third Test (Pink ball Test) at the newly-constructed Motera Stadium, here on Wednesday, with both teams well aware that a defeat will end their hopes of making the ICC World Test Championship final.

India defeated England by 317 runs in the second Test in Chennai, riding an all-star performance from Ravichandran Ashwin (5/43, 3/53 and 106) and a century from Rohit Sharma (161) to a series-levelling victory.

Ahmedabad’s Sardar Patel Stadium will host its first international match since being reconstructed as the world’s biggest cricket venue, boasting a capacity of 110,000. While it will be at reduced capacity for the match due to Covid-19, it looms as the perfect venue for the two Tests which will ultimately decide who joins New Zealand in the decider later this year.

The upcoming Test will be a day and night affair and will be played with the Pink Ball.

For England, this match is all or nothing. They must win this Test and the following one. Only a 3-1 series win can see them go through to the final. For India, a defeat here would end their hopes of winning the series and of making the WTC final. They must finish this series as victors to reach the decider.

A draw would see England’s chances dashed but India’s dreams still alive, heading into the final Test.

Notably, the 15 men’s day-night Tests have been played so far globally and seamers have taken 354 wickets at an average of 24.47, while spinners have taken 115 at 35.38. The lone day-night Test that has been played in India so far, in 2019 between the hosts and Bangladesh, saw 27 wickets fall to seam and only one to spin.

However, Ashwin, who has 17 wickets at 17.82 so far this series, shone with the pink ball in Australia recently, taking 4/55 in the first innings at Adelaide Oval during the Australia tour.

Nevertheless, India’s bowlers have enjoyed themselves whenever they have used the pink ball.

Ishant Sharma averages 8.66 with it, Ashwin 18.00, and the fit-again Umesh Yadav 15.54. Jasprit Bumrah’s lone day-night outing, in Adelaide, has his average sitting at 39.50 but you can expect that number to improve sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, James Anderson looms as the key man in England’s attack. He averages 17.85 with the pink ball. He has also been in serious form this year, taking 11 wickets at 9.90. Both matches he has played in 2021 have been in Asia.

Meanwhile, eyes will be on Virat Kohli, who last scored a Test century more than a year ago. However, Indian captain’s 62 in the second innings of the second Test was a serious display of batting in turning conditions, and there was plenty to like in his 72 in the first Test.

Before that, he looked on course for a century at Adelaide Oval against Australia, easing his way to 74 before a horror mix-up saw him run out.

Ominously for England, his last century came in India’s first day-night Test and he averages 71.33 against the pink ball.

In the opposite corner, captain Joes Root shapes as the key man in England’s batting order against the pink ball.

The England captain enjoyed his first outing under lights against the West Indies, scoring a century in 2017. While he hasn’t climbed such lofty heights since, he has managed a 50+ score in each of his two day-night Tests since then.

 

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