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World Test Championship

WTC hopes hang in the balance as cricket's biggest stadium opens its gates

Ind v Eng, 3rd Test, preview

It is all to play for in the third Test, with both teams well aware a defeat here will end their hopes of making the ICC World Test Championship final.


India v England, 3rd Test
Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad
24-28 February, 2:30pm local time

And what a venue to house to this pivotal clash.

Ahmedabad’s Sardar Patel Stadium will host its first international match since being reconstructed as the world’s biggest cricket venue, boasting a capacity of 110,000. While it will be at reduced capacity for the match, it looms as the perfect venue for the two Tests which will ultimately decide who joins New Zealand in the decider later this year.

For England, this match is all or nothing. They must win this Test and the following one. Only a 3-1 series win can see them go through to the final.

For India, a defeat here would end their hopes of winning the series and of making the WTC final. They must finish this series as victors to reach the decider.

A draw would see England's chances dashed but India's dreams still alive, heading into the final Test.

ICC WTC Standings
ICC WTC Standings

Last time out, India defeated England by 317 runs, riding an all-star performance from Ravichandran Ashwin (5/43, 3/53 and 106) and a century from Rohit Sharma (161) to a series-levelling victory.

It was a match dominated by the spinners and while they will likely again play a big role in the third Test, England will be hoping a shift to day-night cricket and the pink ball offers their seamers more assistance.

History suggests that should be the case. Across the 15 men’s day-night Tests played so far, seamers have taken 354 wickets at an average of 24.47, while spinners have taken 115 at 35.38. The lone day-night Test that has been played in India so far, in 2019 between the hosts and Bangladesh, saw 27 wickets fall to seam and only one to spin.

Who will join New Zealand in the WTC final?
Who will join New Zealand in the WTC final?

Nevertheless, it would be unwise to expect anything but another star showing from Ashwin. He has 17 wickets at 17.82 so far this series, and shone with the pink ball in Australia recently, taking 4/55 in the first innings at Adelaide Oval.

Indeed, India’s bowlers have enjoyed themselves whenever they have used the pink ball. Ishant Sharma averages 8.66 with it, Ashwin 18.00, and the fit-again Umesh Yadav 15.54. Jasprit Bumrah’s lone day-night outing, in Adelaide, has his average sitting at 39.50 but you can expect that number to improve sooner rather than later.

In the opposite corner, James Anderson looms as the key man in England’s attack. He averages 17.85 with the pink ball. He has also been in serious form this year, taking 11 wickets at 9.90. Both matches he has played in 2021 have been in Asia.

If Jofra Archer recovers from the elbow injury that ruled him out of the second Test, then expect him to enjoy himself too.

Look out for

Virat Kohli: It has been more than a year since Kohli last scored a Test century – a period in which he has only played five matches in fairness – but he has not been too far off posting a score of serious note and he just might be due in Ahmedabad.

The Indian captain’s 62 in the second innings of the second Test was a serious display of batting in turning conditions, and there was plenty to like in his 72 in the first Test. Before that, he looked on course for a century at Adelaide Oval against Australia, easing his way to 74 before a horror mix-up saw him run out.

Ominously for England, his last century came in India’s first day-night Test and he averages 71.33 against the pink ball.

Virat Kohli bats in Chennai.
Virat Kohli bats in Chennai.

Joe Root: Like his opposite number, Root shapes as the key man in England’s batting order against the pink ball. The England captain enjoyed his first outing under lights against the West Indies, scoring a century in 2017. While he hasn’t climbed such lofty heights since, he has managed a 50+ score in each of his two day-night Tests since then.

Putting the pink ball aside, he shapes as the form Test batsman in the world alongside Kane Williamson. The last match, where he made scores of 6 and 33, ended a run of three Tests with 150+ innings.

Remember the last time

Bar the opening session on day one, India dominated the second Test at Chennai, finishing as comfortable and deserved 317-run winners.

The foundations of that victory were laid by a 162-run stand between Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane that took India from 3-86 to a total of 329. Sharma scored a brilliant 161 off 231 and Rahane a classy 67 before Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten 58 put the hosts firmly in the driver’s seat.

A five-wicket haul from Ashwin (5/43) then saw England rolled for 134 in their first innings. He then put to bed any hopes the tourists had of victory, scoring a second-innings century (106) and enjoying a 96-run stand with Kohli to put India out of sight.

Debutant Axar Patel rounded out a perfect Test for India, taking 5/60 to bowl England out for 164 despite an entertaining 43 off 18 from Moeen Ali.



India: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Axar Patel, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav

England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

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