Amid the controversy of Virat Kohli's alleged ball tampering at Rajkot, India will face England
Amid the controversy of Virat Kohli's alleged ball tampering at Rajkot, India will face England in the third Test of the series at Mohali. There has been no action or even a complaint against Kohli, so India might as well view the story broken by an English tabloid as one of sour grapes. They should stay away from the distraction, and look to continue the great work, which has seen them being undefeated in Tests at home since 2012, when they were incidentally beaten by Alastair Cook's England. Being 1-0 up in the series, India's prime objective should be to maintain the momentum, and widen the lead. England, on the other, must find ways to tackle the Indian spinners effectively.
Although India won the Vizag Test rather easily, they were not completely dominant throughout. The reason being that all their batsmen were not in their elements. The form of the openers remains a concern. Lokesh Rahul came in for the previous Test, but looked out of sorts in both innings while Murali Vijay too hasn't shone since the first innings of the Rajkot Test. The usually reliable Ajinkya Rahane has also failed to come up with a single score of substance in the two Tests thus far. It will be imperative for him to perform since India are playing only five batsmen. Under current circumstances, that puts too much pressure on Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara although the lower other is chipping in.
India have been forced to make a change in the wicket-keeping department as Wriddhiman Saha has been ruled out due to injury. Parthiv Patel has thus got an out of the blue recall, of which he would be hoping to make the most. His wicket-keeping skills will particularly be under pressure. In the bowling department, the decision to select Jayant Yadav ahead of Amit Mishra caused some controversy. But, Yadav put up an impressive show with both bat and ball, and his confidence should be high going into the Mohali Test. While Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami are certainties there might be a tussle between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav for the other slot.
England, understandably, have made some changes. Ben Duckett, on expected lines, has been dropped after struggling miserably against spin. The English have recalled Jos Buttler, which means the visitors would go in with two wicket-keeper batsmen in the Test. Buttler will have a point to prove as Jonny Bairstow has already established himself in the team. Of course, England will depend heavily on skipper Alastair Cook and Joe Root in the batting department. If they come good, the visitors can definitely compete. In Haseeb Hameed, they seem to have found a dependable opener.
In the bowling department, England have been dealt with a big blow as Stuart Broad has been ruled out of the Mohali match. In his absence, James Anderson will have an even greater role to play. The good news though is that the impressive Chris Woakes is back. It would be interesting to see if Steven Finn will get a chance in the absence of Broad. In the spin department, the impressive Adil Rashid will be the key, but will there will be a place for 39-year-old Gareth Batty. England have good all-round strength in the likes of Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes, both of whom can shine with bat and ball. They will need to be at their very best.