India and England ready to shine under the lights in Ahmedabad

By Sports Desk February 23, 2021

A gripping series is perfectly poised ahead of a mouthwatering day-night Test between India and England at the spectacular Motera Stadium. 

Although the capacity will be halved due to coronavirus restrictions amid the pandemic, there will still be up to 55,000 allowed into the biggest cricket venue in the world for the third Test in Ahmedabad.  

Ravichandran Ashwin was the star of the show on his home ground in Chennai as India levelled the series at 1-1, the all-rounder taking match figures of 8-96 and scoring a sublime second-innings century on a pitch that turned sharply from day one. 

The seamers will be hoping playing under floodlights with a pink ball will give them more of a chance to make an impact when the third Test starts on Wednesday, though spin will still be expected to play a major part in proceedings. 

India paceman Ishant Sharma is poised to make his 100th appearance in the longest format, while Ashwin is closing in on 400 Test scalps. 

James Anderson and Jofra Archer are set to return to the England side, with Chris Woakes pushing for a place along with Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood - the latter two are back in the squad after being given a break following the tour of Sri Lanka. 

England all-rounder Moeen Ali will not feature after heading home and India have brought fast bowler Umesh Yadav into the squad, releasing Shardul Thakur. 

Captain Joe Root gave nothing away when asked about selection on the eve of the match. 

He said: "We are going to take our time with the limited information we have on this ground, on pink-ball cricket. We are going to make sure we give ourselves as much information as possible before we make that decision."

 

Century up for Ishant, Ashwin closing in on 400

Ishant is set to become only the 11th player for India to reach 100 Tests, having already marked this series with a milestone after taking his 300th wicket in the longest format. 

The pace bowler has taken 76 Test scalps at an average of just 19.3 since 2018 and could thrive in the conditions. 

Ashwin, the hero of the second Test, is just six wickets short of the 400 landmark - a feat only Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh have achieved for India. 

The off-spinner has taken 17 wickets in the series at 17.82 apiece with a strike rate of 40.4. Jack Leach is the second-highest wicket-taker with 12.

 

Anderson ready to shine under the lights

After playing a big hand in England's victory in the first Test in Chennai, Anderson was understandably frustrated to be omitted for the second match at the same venue.

The seamer said he understands the tourists' rotation policy in such a demanding year, though, and is raring to go with the pink ball.

England's leading Test wicket-taker has claimed 14 scalps at an average of 17.85 in three day-night Tests and should pose a massive threat to the India batsmen.

He said: "All the seam bowlers want really is a bit of carry, which we haven't really had throughout the series. We're keeping our fingers crossed there's a bit more in it for the seamers."

Key match facts

- India were bowled out for only 36 in their last day-night Test against Australia in Adelaide in December. England also endured a pink-ball nightmare when they were skittled out for just 58 by New Zealand in March 2018. 

- India have managed one win and a defeat in their two day-night Tests. England have been beaten in two of the three day-night contests they have played in the longest format.  

- This will be the third Test encounter between India and England at Motera Stadium. India have won once there, with Cheteshwar Pujara making a Test-best 206 not out in November 2012. The other meeting ended in a draw. 

- Only Niroshan Dickwella (seven in 19 games) has claimed more Test stumpings than Ben Foakes since November 2018 (five). The England wicketkeeper has only played six Tests in that time. 

- Rory Burns has been dismissed by Ashwin in three of his four innings in the series, scoring just 33 runs. 

Related items

  • Chahar marks half-century in style as CSK crush Punjab Kings Chahar marks half-century in style as CSK crush Punjab Kings

    Deepak Chahar produced career-best Indian Premier League figures to inspire Chennai Super Kings to a dominant victory over Punjab Kings.

    Making his 50th appearance in the competition, Chahar helped ensure Punjab's innings never got going as they were restricted to 106-8.

    He finished with 4-13 from four overs, including one maiden, Punjab never getting to grips with a challenging surface in Mumbai.

    Faf du Plessis (36 not out) and Moeen Ali (46) combined for 66 to help CSK ease to their target with 26 balls to spare, winning by six wickets.

    Mayank Agarwal went for a two-ball duck to Chahar in the opening over, misjudging a wondrous delivery that pinged the top off-stump.

    A direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja saw KL Rahul run out before the West Indian pair of Chris Gayle (10) and Nicholas Pooran (0) each fell to Chahar before the end of the powerplay.

    Deepak Hooda tamely chipped to mid-off for Chahar's fourth wicket, leaving Punjab on 26-5 in the seventh over.

    Shahrukh Khan's 36-ball 47, which included two sixes, at least made sure Punjab had something to defend, but a lack of support from the lower order meant the target was always one well within CSK's grasp.

    Moeen and Du Plessis extinguished any hopes of Punjab claiming an unlikely win, their second-wicket stand allowing the Super Kings to coast to victory despite a 15th-over blitz from Mohammed Shami that saw Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu dismissed.

    Chahar makes mark on landmark appearance

    Chahar let out a huge roar when he castled Agarwal and he had every right to do so after producing a delivery that nipped away from middle stump to deceive the opener.

    The subsequent dismissals owed more to a fine catch from Jadeja to get rid of Gayle and batting errors from Pooran and Hooda, but nothing should be taken away from Chahar after he tilted the game firmly in CSK's favour.

    Moeen gets things moving

    Moeen and Du Plessis showed Punjab how to bat on the surface with an excellent partnership, the England all-rounder's 46 coming off 31 deliveries, his strike rate of 148.38 the best in the contest.

    He recorded seven fours and one maximum, with Du Plessis' sole six coming off a scoop shot in the fourth over. The South African was still in at the end when Sam Curran wrapped things up after a brief wobble.

  • Fakhar and Nawaz help Pakistan fend off South Africa for series triumph Fakhar and Nawaz help Pakistan fend off South Africa for series triumph

    Pakistan sealed a 3-1 triumph over South Africa in their Twenty20 series despite almost matching a wretched batting collapse by the hosts in the Centurion finale.

    The Proteas slumped from 109-2 to 144 all out amid a display of artless batsmanship to set Pakistan just a modest victory target, yet the chasing side almost threw away the match with an implosion of their own.

    Eventually they won by three wickets with one ball to spare, Fakhar Zaman smashing 60 from 34 balls and Mohammad Nawaz clinching victory with a six when just two runs were required.

    Babar Azam's century had spurred Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the third game of this four-match series, but where that contest, also at Centurion, was a run-fest, with both teams topping 200, this time South Africa were masters of their own downfall.

    Aiden Markram came into the match behind three successive T20 fifties, attempting to be only the third player, after Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle, to make four in a row.

    He was the first batsman to be dismissed, however, lbw to Nawaz, and although Janneman Malan (33) and Rassie van der Dussen (52) then put on 57 for the second wicket, there was little other resistance to be found among the South Africa batsmen.

    Faheem Ashraf tormented the top order for figures of 3-17 in four overs, while Hasan Ali rebounded well from being carted for 29 in his opening two overs, finishing with 3-40.

    In Pakistan's reply, Fakhar came to the crease after Mohammad Rizwan slumped to a first-over stumping, and the left-hander soon set about the home attack, crunching five fours and four sixes before being caught as a wild swipe at Lizaad Williams sent the ball skywards.

    His departure triggered the second heavy flurry of wickets in the match, Pakistan sliding from 92-1 to 129-7, needing someone to find some composure.

    Nawaz was that man, first punishing Sisanda Magala for delivering two consecutive no-balls in the penultimate over, flogging his second free hit over the ropes. In a nervy final over, Nawaz (25 not out) picked off Williams from the fifth ball, pulling square over the boundary for the winning runs.

    Chaos reigns

    A contest littered with chaotic cricket was perhaps best summed up by the first delivery of the ninth over in Pakistan's reply. Tabraiz Shamsi's delivery was short, sat up and called for severe punishment. Even so, Fakhar looked sure to miss out on a boundary as George Linde moved to sweep up inside the boundary. Yet Linde inexplicably failed to get his body in the way of the ball. Really rather poor all round.

    Hasan heroic

    While Faheem and Haris Rauf (2-18) kept it supremely tight throughout their spells, the same could not be said for Hasan, who came in for some brutal early treatment. It takes sporting courage and skill to rebound from two horror overs, and he demonstrated such attributes by taking three wickets in his next two sets of six, including that of Magala from his final delivery.

  • Rashford a doubt for Man Utd's clash with Burnley, confirms Solskjaer Rashford a doubt for Man Utd's clash with Burnley, confirms Solskjaer

    Marcus Rashford is a doubt for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Burnley on Sunday, boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

    The England international did not make it off the substitutes' bench during United's 2-0 win over Granada on Thursday, a result which sealed a 4-0 aggregate victory to book a Europa League semi-final against Roma.

    Rashford – who is suffering from an ongoing foot injury – took his tally to 20 for the season in the first leg, making him the first United player to hit double figures in consecutive campaigns since Wayne Rooney 11 years ago.

    The 23-year-old has missed just three games for United this season and Solskajer said he will give Rashford as long as he needs to prove his fitness. 

    "It's a big bonus that he didn't have to put any pressure on his foot [against Granada]," Solskjaer told a media conference. "I have got to hope he can be available and not make it worse. That is the decision I have got to make, so fingers crossed.

    "He wasn't due to be on the bench really. He didn't train yesterday [Wednesday] but, just in case, he put his hand up and said 'if needed, I could do a job'. 

    "So, it is a decision I have got to make on Sunday morning. But he is important for us. It is a difficult one. You have to go by how Marcus feels in a couple of days."

    United host Burnley at Old Trafford looking to win five consecutive Premier League games for the first time since they won their first six under Solskjaer's leadership in January 2019. 

    While another three points would take them another step closer to sealing a top-four finish, it is unlikely to help them rein in leaders Manchester City, who have an 11-point lead over their neighbours, having played a game more. 

    Solskjaer is not prepared to write off United's title chances just yet, but he does concede it seems improbable that City will drop enough points to allow them back into the race. 

    "Of course we'll never give up," he said. "Manchester United will never, ever give up. This club has had too many setbacks and too many great comebacks to have it in our DNA. 

    "Is it realistic? No, probably not. When you have a team that is so consistent as Manchester City have been, you don't expect them to lose three games of the last six. 

    "As long as we do our job, we want to finish the season strong and go one game at a time."

    With a seven-point lead over Leicester City, United look well placed to improve on their third-placed finish last season. 

    While Solskjaer is pleased with his side's progress this term, he will not be satisfied until they have won the Premier League title for the first time since Alex Ferguson's last season in charge in 2012-13. 

    "You've got to make progress, step by step, that's the reality," he explained. "If we can manage second place and keep winning and get second, if Man City win all games and we win ours, you want to finish strongly. 

    "Third last year, second this, close to a trophy. It's progress. It's not the end game; the end game is winning the league. But we are not in the era of Sir Alex and we've had a transformation period since he left.

    "But it's progress, step by step, and if we do that well enough, that is when you get trophies and league titles which, of course, is our ambition."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.