A brand new Motera Stadium is all set to host its first ever international match as India get ready to take on England in the third Test in the 4-match series that currently stands tied 1-1.
Motera last hosted a Test match way back in 2012, that too against England (India won by 9 wickets), before going into a makeover phase in 2015. The world's largest stadium, as it has come to be known as for having a capacity of 1.1 lakh spectators, will have half its capacity filled with enthusiastic fans as the two teams hit the ground on Wednesday.
Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, acknowledged the importance of having support of the crowd in alleviating the spirit of the home team and said, "crowd plays a massive role. They get behind us daily, the difference of which (from the first Test) we saw in the second Test.
"When you go to play in Australia, England, South Africa or New Zealand, I have experienced this as a batsman that when you walk in to play and the crowd is booing at you or clapping when the bowlers are running in to bowl, it does play in your head. We would love that atmosphere to be present and make life more difficult for the opposition."
This will be the 2nd Pink Ball Test in India and the conditions are likely to favour the bowlers. While it's no secret that batting in twilight has been a matter of discomfort for many, we also have come to know that the shiny pink ball often does swing more than usual in the evenings. On top of that, speculation is rife that the pitch with very little grass will also assist spinners, thus making it look like a possible bolwers' feast.
"The pink ball does tend to swing a lot more than red ball. We experienced that when we played in 2019 for the first time (vs Bangladesh at Eden Gardens)," Kohli pointed on the eve of the Test.
India will have Jasprit Bumrah back in the attack and the inclusion of Umesh Yadav in the squad indicates India might want to go with a three-pacer and two-spinner combination. Ishant Sharma will be playing his 100th Test and spearheading the attack, while Ravichandran Ashwin is likely to get the assistance of either Axar Patel or Kuldeep Yadav.
Journey to 💯th Test 👌— BCCI (@BCCI) February 23, 2021
Off-field memories 👍
Bonding with teammates 🙌
As @ImIshant is set to play his 100th Test at Motera, #TeamIndia congratulate the pacer & reminisce memories shared with him 👏👏 - by @RajalArora.@Paytm #INDvENG
Full feature 🎥 👉 https://t.co/bhvwfpUaUP pic.twitter.com/V0xKU6HkGM
For England, Jofra Archer and James Anderson will make their way back into the team. Archer was out of the second Test due to an elbow injury while Anderson was rested as part of their Rotation Policy. Jonny Bairstow will be available for selection which is indeed a good news for skipper Joe Root who barely found any assistance in the middle order in the last Test. Bairstow has tons of experience and is pretty neat at playing spin, which is indeed the need of the hour for Root & Co.
Meanwhile, India will need at least one more win and a draw (series win with 2-1 or 3-1) to qualify for the World Test Championship Final, scheduled to be held at Lord's, England, from June 18, 2021.