A series that’s currently locked at 1-1 will change hues with the pink-ball Test, the first one in 2021, as India and England look to gain advantage of day/night conditions and edge ahead in the four-match series.
The series has swung from one extreme to another so far; the home team was outclassed in the first clash in Chennai but managed to effect an equalling comprehensive defeat on the tourists on the same venue in the second Test. The third match, however, will go beyond the usual dynamics, with the SG pink ball, the newly-built Motera stadium, and the dew factor all proving to be unfamiliar yet key elements of the clash.
While there has been ample talk of seamers holding the advantage in day/night conditions, Rohit Sharma, in the pre-match press conference, suggested that the pitch could be similar to the turners on offer in the first two matches.
— Brian Murgatroyd (@murgersb) February 22, 2021
Three days ahead of the match, official images of the pitch on social media suggested a good amount of grass on the track. While it’s likely to be trimmed closer to the game, there is a good possibility that the surface will still carry a green tinge to help retain the pink ball’s lacquer.
The weather is expected to be dry and sunny throughout the five days, with no chances of precipitation. Towards the evening and night, there’s gentle breeze expected, with little to no cloud cover.
India v England: Team news for the pink ball Test
With the conditions on offer, India are likely to break their winning combination and include an extra seamer in their playing XI. Jasprit Bumrah looks certain to make a return, but there’s still speculation over who he would replace.
Day/night games usually benefit seamers, but reports of a turning track, coupled with the benefits of playing a wrist spinner in a pink-ball game, might not make it an easy selection. Umesh Yadav, too, is in the reckoning for a place (subject to fitness), after joining the team at the expense of Shardul Thakur.
Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood return to the squad after being rested for the first two matches. Moeen Ali’s return has opened up the debate for their spin-bowling slots: Jack Leach is expected to retain his place, and Dom Bess is likely to be added to the XI as support. Zak Crawley and Bairstow’s availability intensify the debate on the top order’s composition, putting pressure on an out-of-form Rory Burns.
India v England predicted XI
The predicted XIs of the two teams, along with pitch conditions, weather forecast and team news, can be found in our fantasy preview here.