India vs England 3rd Test Preview - India start as favourites against injury-marred England
Shardul Thakur regains fitness ahead of the Leeds Test and available for selection.
Team India is currently touring England for a five-match Test series. Both India and England are playing their first series of the second edition of World Test Championship (WTC). In the first edition of WTC, India lost to New Zealand in the final while England finished fourth.
Two Test matches have been played in the ongoing five-match series. The first Test was played at Nottingham from August 4-8, 2021 which ended in a draw. The recently concluded second Test was played at the Lord’s Cricket Ground from August 12-16, 2021 which India won comprehensively by 151 runs and are leading the series 1-0.
India Start Favourites
India are favourites to take an unassailable lead in the series going into the third Test after defeating England in the second Test in London. The last away Test series won by India against in England was back in 2007 under the leadership of Rahul Dravid. The third Test is going to be played at the Headingley Cricket Ground, Leeds from August 25-29, 2021.
With India not to do many chop and changes and injury scares among players, they are favorite to register another win against their name.
History of Headingly Cricket Ground
Headingley Cricket Ground is known for one of the best pitches in the world for Test match cricket. Historically, teams have won 29 games batting first and 31 games batting second out of the 78 test matches played here.
In the recent past, out of the last 5 Tests held there, the team batting first has won 2 games while 3 games were won by the team batting second. Either team would prefer to score big runs in their first innings to deflate the opposition as batting gets difficult during the 4th and 5th day while chasing a significant target.
Read More: England’s Top Order fiasco and over dependence on Joe Root – An Analysis
Ravichandran Ashwin might get the nod for India, England look to sort bowling combination
The United Kingdom's weather forecast is somewhat similar in all of their counties. The conditions will help fast bowlers during the first hour. At Leeds, the bowlers need to be patient and consistent and should get some help from the pitch by the third and fourth innings. The batting gets much harder then and the batsmen start struggling against the spinners which might force India to play Ravichandran Ashwin.
In the third Test at Leeds, both the teams will look to have their bowling combination sorted out which might include some changes for injury-driven England with five of their major pacers missing out and Mark Wood’s shoulder injury adding to their woes. Saqib Mahmood could make his Test debut sharing the ball along with James Anderson, Ollie Robinson and Sam Curran.
England set to make changes in top order with Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley being dropped from the squad. Dawid Malan and Ollie Pope joined the England squad for the third test. Dawid Malan to bat at No. 3 and bolster England’s middle order along with Joe Root. Haseeb Hameed to move a position up and open along side Rory Burns.
On the other side, Ashwin might be the only forced change for India seeing how the pitch behaves in the latter half of a match. KL Rahul, alongside Rohit Sharma, would be looking to give India another solid start with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the middle-order. But India need Virat Kohli to stay at the crease as his form has been depleted for some time. Virat Kohli would eagerly be waiting to make this outing count as he has gone 49 international innings without scoring a century.
India's middle order have been the talk of the town for a while as Chesteshwar Puajra, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli who form Team India's middle order, hasn't contributed enough with the bat to India's success since 2020. They average below 30 and only one century scored among them in that period.
The only hurdle to Ashwin’s selection is Ishant Sharma’s experience. The leading pace bowler’s presence is one of the advantages for India as he has the ability to make crucial blows witnessed in the Lord’s Test. This will keep him on the top in team selection as compared to Shardul Thakur. However, Shardul Thakur is back with the team and have regained full fitness ahead of tomorrow's game. Thakur is available for selection.
There are also speculations over Hanuma Vihari's inclusion over Ishant Sharma in the Leeds test as he was found flexing him arm and bowling some off breaks in nets.
India - KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli [Captain], Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant [Wicketkeeper], Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin/Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj
England - Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root [Captain], Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler [Wicketkeeper], Sam Curran, Moeen Ali, Ollie Robinson, Saqib Mahmood, James Anderson
"There's three massive games to play in the series. It's a lot to play for and we're desperate to bounce back strongly" England captain Joe Root
"We have no reason to change anything [in the XI] unless people have niggles, which we haven't encountered since the last Test. You usually don't want to disturb the winning combination." India captain Virat Kohli
Read More: India’s Middle Order Conundrum – Pujara, Kohli, Rahane average under 30 from 2020