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Run up to the Third Test at Motera

The series is tied 1-1 with both nations eying the World Test Championship. There could not have been a better venue than the World's largest Cricket stadium with a capacity of close to 1,10,000.

The Stadium was reconstructed at a whopping cost of 800 crores. It has been equipped with LED lights instead of towers for lights so it will offer a different feel to all viewers with no obstruction from the pillars.

It is befitting that the test at this venue is played between England and India.

The Motera stadium boasts of -

1) 10000th run scored by Sunil Gavaskar at this venue.

2) Kapil Dev got past 431 wickets overtaking Sir Richard Hadlee.

3) Sachin and Pujara scored their maiden double century at this venue.

4) India has played 2 Tests against England at this venue. In 2001, the match ended up a draw, Whereas, in 2012, India managed to come on top.

I will remember the venue for India's win over Australia in a tense 2011 word cup match, which according to me was the clincher for winning the ICC World Cup 2011.

Pink ball Test

The word Pink creates terror and reminds every Indian of 36 all out at the Adelaide Stadium. My readers will recall that I had written that India will lose that test and it happened. The reason being-

Pink ball uses a thicker Lacquer and due to this, the ball swings more and lateral movement of the pitch increases. Indians are prone to driving and playing on the front foot so they are squared and either bowl goes through the gate or ends up being edged.

If you remember in the first Test, Anderson took 3 wickets in 5 overs on a turning pitch with his in-cutters and won the match for England. At Adelaide, Hazelwood ran through the Indian Innings with his deadly outswingers. Who can forget the world cup Semifinal, where  Boult ran through the top order and handed a loss to the in-form Indian team. 

Pitch

A lot of the former players are criticizing the Chennai pitch but I really appreciated the home advantage theory propagated by Rohit Sharma. India did not crib at England or Australia, where pitches are suited for their bowlers.

So we expect a bare pitch, devoid of grass for the pink-ball Test. Pitch will be suitable for batting for the first two days then start turning in the evening session of 3rd day and will be a rank turner on 5th day. As it is the end of February, so heat will dry up any moisture in 2 days so it will start breaking.

Team Selection

England

-England are likely to  play with 4 Pacers- Anderson, Archer, Olly Stone, Broad/ Wood

-Stokes will be 5th bowler and Jack Leach could be the lone spinner.

-Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley will open the innings followed by Root, Ollie Pope, Stokes, and Foakes.

India

India are expected to play three seamers. Ishant and Bumrah are certain. However, it will be a toss-up between Siraj and Umesh.  In the Adelaide Test, Umesh claimed 3 wickets in the first innings and he can move the ball late along with reverse swing. Further his record in India is pretty good so he may get a nod.

Axar has cemented his place by his 7 wicket haul and unlucky Kuldeep will have to sit out. The rest of the team is likely to remain the same. Ashwin claimed 5 wickets at the Adelaide pink-ball Test and for this reason, he will someone to watch out for again.

Toss

Whoever will win the toss will choose to bat as 4th innings will be a difficult proposition. My analysis is based on the pitch and things can go haywire if there is a green top.

Match to remember

This is a match where any team can win. One collapse and another team will be in ascending situation. In India Shubman, Rohit, Kohli, and Pant are prone to lateral movement. England have Archer and Anderson for lateral movement. Pujara, Ashwin Ajinkya are prone to height and movement. England have Archer, Wood, Broad, and Stone for height and pace.

Similarly, the late movement of Bumrah and Umesh can be undoing for Crawley, Sibley, and Stokes. The spin of Ashwin and Axar can take care of the tail and Joe Root, if restricted can be scalped.

Verdict

India edges out England in odds with 3 in favor and 2 against. In such a close fight, two brilliant performances can eclipse the other team.

I feel that Rohit Sharma will perform again, Pujara will remain stable, and the rest will be partnerships to reach a total of 400+ in the first innings. For England, Root will again perform and if he gets support from two other batsmen England may reach 350+ in the first innings.

It will be the 2nd innings which will be crucial and decide the outcome of the match.

Happy and Intense viewing