4TH TEST, PREVIEW: WORLD C'SHIP FINAL BECKONS AS INDIA LOOK TO SEAL SERIES 3-1
A month of intense cricket and we are finally at the juncture where a win or draw will see India qualify for the World Test Championship Final. India, however, are pretty glued to the present to only focus on how to make it 3-1 against England with a win in the fourth and final Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Motera, starting on Thursday.
There has been a constant buzz around the pitch which saw the last Test getting folded in just two days. While some blamed only the turf, some added the Pink Ball's shine to the list of possible causes behind the batting disaster too.
The question, however, remained, aren't the cricketers trained enough to brave such unfavourable conditions? India Skipper Virat Kohli had a befitting reply for all those who seemed obsessed with the pitch and the colour of the ball!
"There is always too much noise around spinning tracks. We lost in NZ on Day 3 in 36 overs. None of our people wrote about the pitch. It was always about how India played badly. No one spoke about how much grass was there or how much the ball moved.
I also don't understand why a cricket ball is brought into focus. Why don't we just accept the fact that the batsmen were just not skilled enough to play on that pitch properly? It was a bizarre display of batting by both teams. I have played this game long enough to understand what happens on the cricket field," Kohli said.
India will miss Jasprit Bumrah's service since he has sought to go on leave citing personal reasons. Umesh Yadav, who was included in the squad in the last Test, is most likely to get a chance to assist Ishant Sharma. The pitch being spin-friendly, India are unlikely to change the spin combination of R Ashwin, Axar Patel and Washington Sundar in this Test too.
England, meanwhile, will be keen on getting a win to level the series 2-2. They might want to add the services of another spinner this time. In the last match, they had to pay a heavy price for choosing to go with visible four pacers - James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. Jack Leach lacked the support from the other end until Joe Root took up the ball and delivered with a fifer. However, this time Root might want to choose a more regular spinner, someone like a Dom Bess, in absence of the experienced Moeen Ali.