Bullish England could be in the pink



India v England
Wednesday 24 February 09.00
TV: live on Channel 4

India look to pace

India are cockahoop after hammering England in game two. They would be wise not to get carried away. Had they lost the toss and had to bat last on a pitch which was doing bits, they could have found themselves 2-0 down.

The rational response to that 317-run success is perhaps to wonder why India felt the need to take such a gamble on a fifty-fifty call? After defeat in the first Test maybe they felt particularly vulnerable. Well, not any more.

Despite such an easy win they are likely to make changes. Jasprit Bumrah is expected to return to the line-up after sitting out the second Test. That means that Kuldeep Yadav could miss out. Umesh Yadav may also come straight back into the XI after passing a fitness test as India add pace options.

Possible XI Rohit, Gill, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Pant, Ashwin, Axar, Ishant, Bumrah, Siraj

England pin hopes on pink ball

England are not in too shabby a place either when you listen to the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes in the pre-match hype. They are excited at the prospect of a day-night Test, a pink ball, preying on India fears after they were destroyed for 36 under lights in Australia and their standing at level pegging with two to play.

Time will tell whether they are clutching at straws. But what does seem certain is that they will go with pace, rather than spin. James Anderson will play. Who joins him? Stuart Broad? Jofra Archer who has had an injection on a troublesome elbow? Chris Woakes?

Surely England will pair the old stagers Anderson and Broad at such a crucial time.

England may well choose to go with all of them.

Zak Crawley is also fit to return and he could be in a straight fight with Jonny Bairstow for the No 3 slot. Alternatively both could play with England leaning on Ben Stokes for a big contribution and Root taking some pressure off Jack Leach.

Possible XI Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root, Stokes, Pope, Foakes, Woakes, Broad, Anderson, Leach

Pitch report

The Sardar Patel Stadium hasn’t hosted an international for nine years and has been completely refurbished. England were beaten by nine wickets in the game in 2012. It was a classic India wicket. The hosts batted first, piled on 500 and the spinners did the rest. More of the same?

Hard to tell. What we do know is that Anderson has insisted reverse is unlikely and Root expects it to take turn as the games goes on. We would also be very surprised if grass was left on the surface to assist England considering how keen the hosts were to get back into the series with a wicket that suited them in Chennai. Normally, grass is left on wickets for day-night Tests to keep the pink ball harder for longer. India did that in the one day-night Test in the country against Bangladesh. But that was Bangladesh. And they didn’t have an Anderson clone.

Don’t rule out tourists

India are 1.594/7, England 3.953/1 and the draw 7.807/1. Not surprisingly, the toss is key. If England were to win it and bat first (surely Root wouldn’t be foolish enough to bowl?) then they are a bet at around the 3.7011/4 mark.

The pink ball should help them reduce the gulf (there is a bit of evidence that it assists the pacemen more) and in game one on a fairer wicket they showed they had the gumption to bed in for the sort of first-innings total that is a game changer.

Batting first, England should be capable of going for 300 or more. Betting them to be on course to do so is a solid trade on the draw. It will collapse from that high position with the market convinced that India will surpass anything England get.

To that end, we like Sportsbook’s 5/2 that both teams bust more than 300. That’s a price motivated by England’s batting display last time which is unlikely to be relevant. This surface probably won’t rag and bite on day one. Maybe day four.

Tops value

Chet Pujara notched a double ton on this ground against England in that 2012 contest. He will be popular at 7/2 for top India bat. Virat Kohli has had his price boosted to 5/2 from 2/1 for honours by Sportsbook. Joe Root is mighty short at 6/4 and, as ever, Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope hold greater appeal at 4/1 and a massive 8/1 respectively.

Ravi Ashwin, man of the match in Chennai, is 6/4 for top India bowler in the first dig. That’s a price to swerve considering spin bowling averages go up with a pink ball. Mohammad Siraj catches the eye at 9/2. Anderson is joint favourite at 5/2 with Jack Leach.

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