India v England Third Test Tips: England value to take down unsettled hosts

Ben Stokes
Stokes plays his 100th Test in Rajkot

Ed Hawkins previews game three from Rajkot and say first-innings runs could make all the difference from Thursday...

  • England value batting first

  • Pitch might deteriorate

  • Kohli, Rahul out

  • India v England
    Thursday 15 February
    , 04.00
    TV: Live on TNT Sports

    India v England third Test team news

    Virat Kohli has been ruled out of the series due to personal reasons. KL Rahul is considered unfit to play but should be back for game four.

    The good news is that Ravi Jadeja is fit again. He balances the India XI. Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin will be paired down to two only. There should be a debut for domestic run machine Sarfaraz Khan. Dhruv Jurel, the keeper, is also in line to make a test debut.

    Alternatively Dev Paddikal could play. Paddikal scored 151 and 36 in the Ranji Trophy this week. Whether India go with two seamers or one is dependant on the type of surface.

    Possible XI: Rohit, Jaiswal, Gill, Sarfaraz, Patidar, Jurel, Jadeja, Axar, Ashwin, Bumrah, Siraj

    England have picked two pacers. James Anderson is joined by Mark Wood. Wood had strapping on his leg in training but England are likely to use him in four-over bursts of high speed.

    Spinner Rehan Ahmed keeps his place ahead of Shoaib Bashir. One man who won't be involved is Jack Leach. He has been ruled out of the series and it could be he has played his last Test. Ben Stokes plays his 100th.

    Named XI: Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Foakes, Hartley, Rehan, Wood, Anderson

    India v England third Test pitch report

    There have been only two Tests at Rajkot, a draw between India and England in 2016 and a trouncing for West Indies in 2018.

    Ollie Pope reported that the surface had grass on. Whether that is India trying to lull England, who name their team a day ahead, into a a false sense of security remains to be seen.

    The first-innings scores in those two Tests (most recent first) read: 181, 649, 488 and 537. If the wicket retains some greenery, then the option to get long of England's runs on their par line could be value.

    In the last four Ranji trophy matches there is a trend for big first-innings runs. Chet Pujara scored an unbeaten 243 in January. But there have been signs that the pitch takes spin as the match goes on. It could be a classic test wicket rather than one specifically ordered for India.

    India v England third Test match odds

    India are 1.4840/85, England 4.30100/30 and the draw is 9.809/1. Two Tests in and the series is not panning out as many would have expected.

    That's because England are proving to be competitive. And with India's batting weaker, they may sense an opportunity.

    Certainly there's little joy to be had at pre-toss India prices. For them to be a wager they would have to be batting first with a wicket expected to deteriorate.

    The toss, then, is key. If it goes England's way then they will surely bat first and hope they make it a second-innings shootout. In fourth innings in India do not underestimate the worth of a target of 180-odd.

    For that reason England represent a bit of value. But the caveat is they have to bat first. We might get 3.8514/5.

    Back England batting first @ 3.8514/5

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