England ring changes in bid to draw level

Match Facts

November 26-30, 2016
Start time 9.30 local (0300GMT)

Play 02:21

Span of eight days too short to analyse DRS – Kohli

Big picture

It was route-one to victory for India in Vizag: win the toss, bat big, get the spinners to work, allow the pitch to wear, then back to the spinners. But they have been challenged enough by England – more than by recent visitors – over the first two Tests to suggest they can’t afford a slip.

In the past, a trip north to Mohali may have brought the encouragement of some extra assistance for the quicks, but that was not the pattern last year against South Africa and, judging by the look of the pitch this time, the pacemen will not be leaping out of bed in the morning.

There are five members of the England squad, including captain Alastair Cook, who will have fond memories of fighting back from 1-0 down on the 2012-13 tour but as Nick Compton, another member of that side recalled, that was a team chock full of experience. For this England to emulate that comeback would be astonishing, but it is not impossible.

As has been the theme throughout the Bangladesh tour, and now India, England will tinker with their XI but, fundamentally, they will need runs from Cook and Joe Root if they are to compete. The middle order is strong – the development of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow continues to impress – but it is mighty difficult if you fall behind.

With that in mind, England have to be able to stay in the contest should India put a big first-innings score on the board. They played some impressive cricket on days three and four in Vizag, but the game was lost during the final session of the second day when they slipped to 80 for 5.

There was an understandable air of confidence from Virat Kohli as he spoke after the second Test: it was a solid performance and he contributed 248 runs with batting on a different level to anything else seen in the contest. His opening-day century was the first time in 13 innings against England that he had passed fifty and with R Ashwin claiming his first five-wicket haul against them, they were two significant boxes ticked by India’s match-winners. For England to fight back, they will have to keep both quiet in Mohali, which is easier said than done.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
India WDWWW
England LDLWL

In the spotlight

He has played only one first-class match in more than 12 months, but now Jos Buttler is set to be given the task of providing an x-factor to England’s middle order. Trevor Bayliss has lauded Buttler’s qualities over the last six months and the feeling is if he had his own way the recall may have come sooner, but now Ben Duckett’s struggles and Gary Ballance’s travails in Bangladesh have left England nowhere else to look to refresh the batting. Buttler has been told to play his natural game, which means, one way or the other, his time at the crease is unlikely to be dull.

It was only three Tests ago that Ajinkya Rahane scored 188 against New Zealand, so he has plenty of credit in the bank – and the small matter of a Test average of 48.34 – but he has had a difficult start to this series. Two ugly dismissals against spin in Rajkot and a couple of tentative prods in Vizag cost him his wicket. With just five specialist batsmen, India can’t afford an over-reliance on Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Team news

There is one confirmed change for India with Parthiv Patel – whose last Test came eight years ago – replacing the injured Wriddhiman Saha as wicketkeeper.

India (likely) 1 KL Rahul, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 R Ashwin, 7 Parthiv Patel (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Jayant Yadav, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Mohammad Shami

England will make three changes through a mixture of form and fitness issues. Buttler’s recall in place of Ben Duckett, and Chris Woakes’ return for the injured Stuart Broad are confirmed. Gareth Batty is expected to replace Surrey team-mate Zafar Ansari, who is unavailable. There is an argument that England should go with their strength and play four quicks, but that does not appear to be their thinking.

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Haseeb Hameed, 3 Joe Root, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (wk), 7 Jos Buttler, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Gareth Batty, 11 James Anderson

Pitch and conditions

The pitch was dry and shaved. It did not look an extreme surface but there was nothing there to encourage seamers. It is also expected to be slow. Winter is arriving in the north of India and the weather is pleasantly cool, which means the pitch won’t bake much.

Stats and trivia

  • Moeen Ali needs five wickets to reach 100 in Tests
  • India have not lost in Mohali since 1994, against West Indies, in the ground’s first Test. Since then they have six wins and five draws
  • Virat Kohli needs 109 runs for 4000 in Tests; Alastair Cook needs 105 for 11,000
  • England’s collapse from 75 without loss to 158 all out was their second worst for all ten wickets against India

Quotes

“To me, back in 2014, every bowler looked difficult because I wasn’t in a good mindset. But when you are playing well, when you are in a good zone, you feel that you have an upper hand against any bowler that you play and that’s something that you need to carry onto the field as well.”
Virat Kohli on his golden form

“He’s right up there with the best short-form players in the world and he’s earned an opportunity to come and play here.”
Alastair Cook believes Buttler can shine despite his lack of first-class cricket

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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