Wisden writers Ben Gardner, Aadya Sharma, Rohit Sankar and Rupin Kale pick their India XIs to face England in the third Test of the four-match series and the first to be played at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad.
India will play their second pink-ball Test at home and the first Test ever at the newly-built stadium as they gear up to face England with the series tied at 1-1. India need to avert defeat if they are to make it to the World Test Championship final and after hitting upon a winning combination on a sluggish Chepauk deck in the second Test, the hosts will head to Ahmedabad for the pink-ball Test with questions around the best XI they can field from the available options.
Ahead of the third Test, four Wisden writers have a say on their best India XI for the Test.
Ben Gardner, Wisden.com managing editor
Jasprit Bumrah in, Mohammad Siraj out
Umesh Yadav in, Kuldeep Yadav out
More than usual, this is guesswork, with the twin factors of a day/night Test and a new stadium making any speculation about the conditions just that. If it does help the quicks, which the pink ball did in India last time, then the hosts will want a third seamer, and won’t want to leave out an all-rounder, with batting depth potentially crucial. By process of elimination, that means it’s Kuldeep Yadav who comes out. I also fancy Umesh Yadav’s ultra-aggressive antics to have more say than Mohammad Siraj’s more artful efforts, hence the switch there, assuming Umesh passes the fitness test due before the Test.
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 20, 2021
Aadya Sharma, Wisden India editor
Jasprit Bumrah in, Kuldeep Yadav out
The challenge of predicting an India XI for the third Test is two-fold: one, the small sample size for pink-ball cricket in India, and two, India’s lack of experience in the format itself. There’s a general consensus regarding increased help for seamers under lights, along with the dew factor which would make it difficult to grip the ball. Thus, I’d include an additional quick bowler at the expense of a spinner. Kuldeep Yadav, who is still far from his old, penetrative self, moves out to bring in a fit-again Jasprit Bumrah, with Siraj, known to possess early movement (and a good inswinger), keeping his spot. Each of the top eight that played in the second Test (barring debutant Axar Patel) have scored at least a half-century in this series, and there doesn’t seem to be a need to force a change in the batting.
Rohit Sankar, Wisden India staff writer
Jasprit Bumrah in, Axar Patel out
Umesh Yadav in, Mohammed Siraj out
While the pitch in Ahmedabad is likely on the slower side, the pink ball itself is believed to aid the quicker bowlers more, particularly under lights. India’s recent home record has seen a higher involvement for pace and in the only pink ball Test played in the country, the quick bowlers did a good job. Jasprit Bumrah naturally walks back into the XI. Umesh Yadav, who commands a brilliant home record in the last couple of years, should also slot in, if he clears the fitness test, to replace Siraj. Umesh and Bumrah add accuracy, a big weapon on slow tracks. Axar Patel, despite an excellent debut, misses out because of the help the wrist-spinner could get with the pink ball. Under lights, especially, Kuldeep could become a dangerous option with his ability to turn the ball both ways.
Rupin Kale, Wisden India Staff Writer
Siraj out, Bumrah in
Pandya in, Kuldeep out
India resting Jasprit Bumrah in Chennai makes their intention clear: they want their best bowler to be ready for first international game in the world’s biggest stadium. He’s set to be included in XI as their strike bowler and will be crucial under lights at Motera.
The Pandya selection might be contentious, but the all-rounder adds more depth to India’s lineup. While Rohit and Ashwin’s centuries helped them in Chennai, India would’ve recognised the need to improve with the willow despite the win. Pandya was seen bowling in the nets ahead of the game. With the pink ball relatively more difficult to grip for spin bowlers, strengthening the seam department makes sense.