Joe Root says England must not be "scared" about batting on another sharply turning wicket and have no "scars" from back-to-back defeats as they eye a 2-2 Test series draw with India.

The tourists are out of contention to play New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final at Lord's after India responded to a crushing defeat in the first match of the series with two resounding wins.

England can ensure it will be Australia rather than Virat Kohli's side who face the Black Caps if they come out on top in Narendra Modi Stadium in a match that starts on Thursday.

Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel have tormented the England batsmen in the previous two matches in Chennai and Ahmedabad, generating huge turn from day one.

England were beaten inside two days in the third Test after been skittled out for 112 and 81, with Kohli stating batsmen had not shown the skill required to contend with the conditions.

India captain Kohli also expressed his frustration over so much talk of the quality of the surfaces, but there have been no complaints from the England camp and Root knows they must raise their game.

The England captain, who gave nothing away over selection, said in a news conference on Wednesday: "I think the most important thing is that we learn all the lessons from the last two Test matches and make sure we're better for it.

"It's important that if we get ourselves in a similar position in the first innings, we really make that count and try and get some scoreboard pressure early on."

Asked about Kohli's comments on England's batting, he said: "I think that as batters, if you don't score runs you will always look at yourselves, you will always look at ways to try to improve and we've certainly done that.

"We've looked at a couple of dismissals, we've look at how we are going to find ways of building big partnerships and getting some significant scores if it is a similar surface, figuring out a game plan that suits each individual and in turn get those partnerships which we know is so important in Test cricket."

He added: "I think the most important thing is that as a batting group we are very clear about how we want to play, and we go into the game full of confidence.

"We have no scars from the last two Tests, and we play in a controlled, but fearless way. We shouldn't be scared about the surface in any sort of way or the guys bowling on it.

"It's very important we stay very calm, clear about how we want to score runs and trust both defence and when we want to score as well, trust those shots that make us the players we are."

Root revealed assistant coach Paul Collingwood and another member of the backroom team have been suffering from illness, but the players were not affected ahead of a Test for which Dom Bess is expected to be recalled.

India captain Virat Kohli has criticised the "narrative" around spinning pitches ahead of the fourth and final Test against England. 

The hosts hold a 2-1 lead in the series going into the match, having bounced back from a heavy opening defeat inspired by Joe Root's double century to record wins of their own in Chennai and Ahmedabad. 

During the latter two encounters, India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel found prodigious turn, with the third Test over inside two days as England were dismissed for 112 and 81. 

India's 145 all out was perhaps the most eyebrow raising score though, as Kohli's opposite number Root claimed 5-8 with his part-time off-spin. 

Nevertheless, Kohli insists the scrutiny given to playing surfaces that offer early assistance to spin bowlers is disproportionate when set against those where seamers enjoy an advantage. 

"I totally believe that there's always too much noise and conversation about spinning tracks," he said. 

"Unfortunately, everyone sort of plays along with that narrative and keeps making it news. 

"If a Test match happens and we win on day four or day five, no one says anything. If a match finishes in two days everyone pounces on the same issue. 

"It has always been the case that spinning tracks come into focus way more. When the ball seams on a particular pitch and teams get bundled out for 40, 50 or 60, no one writes about the pitch. It's always about bad batting. 

"I think we need to be very honest with ourselves. What space are we talking from and what is the idea behind continuing this narrative? What purpose does it serve people who keep coming this conversation, which is quite one-sided?"

Bad batting was a huge part of the problem last time out according to Kohli. 

The teams reconvene at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday for a traditional red-ball Test, with questions also having been posed over how easy it was to pick the pink ball used in the day-nighter. 

"I don't understand why a cricket ball or a cricket pitch, all these things are brought into focus," Kohli countered. 

"Why don't we focus on the fact that the batsmen were just not skilled enough on that pitch to play properly. 

"It was a bizarre display of batting by both teams. I will continue to maintain that, because I've played this game long enough to understand what happens on the cricket field. 

"It's not a change in ball colour. It's still round, it still weights five-and-a-half ounces. I don't know what difference it makes suddenly." 

If India avoid defeat, they will secure a place in the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Lord's later this year. However, a victory for England would see their Ashes rivals Australia sneak into the inaugural showpiece.

India will hope England fail another trial by spin at the Narendra Modi Stadium when Virat Kohli's side attempt to secure their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.

The tourists won the first match of the series, but back-to-back victories have ended their hopes of facing New Zealand in another final at Lord's.

In-form India only need to avoid defeat in a fourth and final match of the series, which starts in Ahmedabad on Thursday, with Australia hoping England salvage a 2-2 draw to set up a trans-Tasman showdown.

India won the third Test at the same venue by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead, as England were unable to contend with huge turn generated by the spinners on a much-discussed playing surface.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wrought havoc to put the side who sit second in the rankings on the verge of the final in London.

Root not thinking of Australia

Of course, the situation in the series leaves England in the unusual position of trying to do old rivals Australia a favour.

"I wouldn’t see it as that. I would see it as us ending the series as a draw and having done something special in India," captain Joe Root told reporters.

"Ultimately it is about not having any baggage going into this game. [Winning] would be a monumental effort from this group of players."

 

Rahane: India planning to turn the screw

England have kept quiet about the standard of the pitches in the second and third Tests, concentrating on trying to learn from their struggles in such tough conditions.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane says the tourists can expect more of the same.

"The wicket will be similar to the third Test match and also the second Test in Chennai. Spinning track." the batsman said.

He added: "Talk [about the pitch] happening outside is not at all affecting Indian team. We are concentrating on what we have to do. When we tour we never complain about a pitch."

England to save their Bess for last?

The tourists went with just one frontline spinner in the third Test, with Jack Leach getting the nod ahead of Dom Bess.

Root showed he possibly ought to be more than just a part-time bowler, claiming a stunning maiden five-wicket Test haul with incredible figures of 5-8 as India collapsed to 145 in their first innings.

Bess could join Leach in the team for the last match of the series, having taken five wickets in a first Test that England won by 227 runs and impressed in Sri Lanka.

 

Key match facts

- India are yet to lose a Test at Narendra Modi Stadium versus England (W2, D1). They have only been beaten twice on the ground in the longest format, winning five and drawing six.

- England have failed to post totals of more than 178 in five of their six innings in the series. The 193 they made combined in two innings in the third Test is the fourth-fewest they have mustered in a Test match when they were bowled out in both knocks.

- Root has only been out twice when playing a conventional or reverse sweep since the start of the Sri Lanka Test tour, scoring 233 runs in the process. The other England batsmen have recorded 206 runs between them over the same period, being dismissed on 12 occasions when deploying those strokes.

- James Anderson has gone 454 deliveries without dismissing Virat Kohli in Test cricket; the India skipper has been dropped three times off his bowling in that time.

- Ashwin has dismissed Ben Stokes on 11 occasions in the longest format, almost twice the number of any other bowler The England all-rounder only averages 18 against the India spinner.

England have confirmed that former opener Marcus Trescothick will take over as their elite batting coach.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced the appointment on Monday. Trescothick will begin his role in mid-March, leaving his post as assistant coach at Somerset.

Trescothick featured in 76 Test matches for England, scoring 5,825 runs at an average of 43.79. He is 16th on England's list of all-time Test run-scorers and tallied 14 centuries.

He played in 123 ODIs for England, scoring 4,335 runs including 12 hundreds.

In other appointments, Young Lions head coach Jon Lewis has been promoted to elite pace bowling coach while ex-New Zealand spinner Jeetan Patel has been named elite spin bowling coach following several temporary spells working with the men's team.

ECB performance director Mo Bobat said: "Following an extensive recruitment process, I'm really excited about the calibre of the individuals that we've appointed into these specialist roles.

"Marcus, Jon and Jeetan have demonstrated their ability at the highest level and also show huge potential for the future. Working alongside Carl Hopkinson, our current elite fielding coach, we have the makings of a strong specialist coaching team, possessing a diverse range of experience.

"Working in conjunction with counties, they will have responsibility for developing and preparing current and next-in-line England players whilst also adding value to our England and Lions environments. In addition, they will support the development of our best under-19 players through our Young Lions programme."

Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon mocked England's team selection for their third Test hammering by India – declaring the spectacle on a sharply turning pitch in Ahmedabad to be "absolutely brilliant".

The tourists recalled James Anderson and Jofra Archer to feature alongside Stuart Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes, in anticipation of conditions in the day/night Test being favourable to seamers.

However, a volatile surface offered assistance to spinners from the very start, with England bundled out for 112 and 81 as they lost by 10 wickets.

India only managed 145 in their first innings and England skipper Joe Root claimed career-best figures of 5-8 with his part time off-spin.

Despite being a far more respected practitioner of that particular craft, Lyon insisted he had no qualms over a surface that drew criticism from former England captains Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook.

"The best thing about this Test match that just passed is that England went in with four seamers," Lyon said, as quoted by cricket.com.au.

"That will do me. I don't need to say any more.

"I was up all night watching it. It was absolutely brilliant. I'm thinking about bringing that curator out to the SCG."

Lyon made a pointed reference to Australia's humiliating dismissals for 47 and 60 against South Africa and England in 2012 and 2015 respectively, when conditions favoured seam bowling.

"We play on seaming wickets around the world and get bowled out for 47, 60. Nobody ever says a thing [about the pitch]," he said.

"But as soon as it starts spinning, everyone in the world seems to start crying about it. I don't get it. I'm all for it, it was entertaining."

Despite Lyon's enjoyment of the latest match in the four-Test series, the result harmed Australia's prospects of reaching this year's World Test Championship final.

Only an England win in the final game can edge Tim Paine's side into the inaugural one-off showpiece against New Zealand at India's expense.

That would leave Australia out of action in the longest format until the start of their domestic season at the end of this year – an unhelpfully long time for speculation over ructions between coach Justin Langer and members of his team to fester.

"Me personally, if I had a problem with JL I'd go straight to him," Lyon added, casting doubt upon the rumours that emerged in the aftermath of Australia's humbling 2-1 home loss to an injury-ravaged India.

"But I don't have a problem with him. I don't understand where it's all coming from.

"I'd like to think anyone in that changing room or anyone at Cricket Australia or outside - if anyone has a problem with anyone, we're about being honest with each other."

Jasprit Bumrah has been withdrawn from India's squad for the fourth Test against England at the fast bowler's request.

The final match of the series begins in Ahmedabad on Thursday, March 4, with India 2-1 ahead after their 10-wicket win in a third game that was wrapped up inside two days.

Bumrah bowled just six overs as India let the spinners do the damage in that match, and now his involvement in the Test series is over.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in a statement: "Jasprit Bumrah made a request to BCCI to be released from India’s squad ahead of the fourth Test owing to personal reasons.

"Accordingly, the fast bowler has been released and he will not be available for selection for the fourth Test. There will be no addition to India’s squad for the final Test."

It means Bumrah misses a second match in the series, having been rested for the second Test in Chennai when captain Virat Kohli said it was important to "manage his workload".

Bumrah has taken 83 wickets in his first 19 Test appearances, with his last match being the first time he has gone without a wicket. It was also the first Test in which he has bowled fewer than 23 overs for India.

It was another special day for Ravichandran Ashwin as the India all-rounder claimed his 400th Test wicket at the stunning Narendra Modi Stadium. 

Ashwin dismissed Jofra Archer during a short-lived day-night match against England in Ahmedabad, in the process becoming only the fourth India bowler to reach the landmark. 

The spinner joins compatriots Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh in the 400 club, while he is the 16th player to achieve the feat in the longest format. 

Ashwin brought up the milestone in only his 77th match; there will surely be plenty more to come for the 34-year-old, too. 

His standout numbers with the ball in the Test arena since making his debut versus West Indies in November 2011 make for impressive reading.


A five-star performer

Ashwin has taken 29 five-wicket Test hauls, a tally only six players have bettered: Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Richard Hadlee, Kumble, Rangana Herath and James Anderson. 

The in-form Ashwin is just one shy of England seamer Anderson's total of 30, having taken 6-61 in the second innings of the first Test and 5-43 in the first innings of a second match India won emphatically to level the series. 

While not quite able to add to the collection in Ahmedabad, he still finished the game with impressive match figures of 7-74. 

Ashwin has taken six five-wicket hauls in as many Tests against New Zealand - more than any other side.  He has claimed 10 scalps in a Test on seven occasions and seven in an innings five times.


A thorn in Australia's side

Ashwin has racked up 89 of his wickets against Australia, more than any other side.

They were taken in 18 matches at an average of 31.5, while he has also thrived against England over the years - taking 73 wickets at 32.2 apiece.

Ashwin has 39 Test wickets in Australia, more than any nation other than his homeland.

His best performance came in October 2016 against New Zealand in Indore, helping himself to match figures of 13-140 - including 7-59 in the second innings of a crushing 321-run win.


A liking for left-handers

Ashwin has had great success bowling at left-handers over the years. 

He has dismissed a left-hander on 205 occasions, with his average against them at 19.5 compared to 31.2 against right-handers before play began in the third Test.

Ben Stokes is among the batsmen who has suffered at the hands of Ashwin the most; he has dismissed the England all-rounder 11 times in total.

Only Muralitharan managed to make it to 400 in fewer Tests and while Kumble's final total of 619 may be an ambitious target, it seems certain that by the time Ashwin decides to retire, India's newest member of the prestigious club will occupy at least second place on their all-time list for wickets.

Virat Kohli saluted "modern-day legend" Ravichandran Ashwin for passing 400 career wickets in India's outlandish victory over England in the third Test.

India clinched a 10-wicket win on Thursday when they knocked off the required 49 runs with little trouble, having skittled England for the second time in the match.

The tourists made just 112 and 81 as they flopped in the pink-ball day-night match, and that meant India's own first-innings batting collapse did not prove costly.

Ashwin brought up his wickets landmark in just his 77th Test, the off-spinner finishing with match figures of 7-74, while left-armer Axar Patel took 11-70 in the rout to earn man-of-the-match honours.

"We all need to stand up and take notice of what Ashwin has contributed to Indian cricket. We should all be very proud of it," captain Kohli said.

"I told him: 'From now on, I'm going to call you Ledge.'

"Four hundred is an outstanding achievement and still so many games, so many years to go for India, and in Test match cricket he's surely a modern-day legend.

"We're lucky to have him in our team. As a captain I'm so pleased that he plays for us."

Kohli said Axar "bowled amazingly well" in what was just his second Test.

"It's impossible to sweep him and impossible to defend him all day, and if the wicket gives him anything he's just a very lethal bowler," Kohli said. "For Axar to come in and bowl like this is outstanding."

But Kohli had no such praise for India as a batting side, or England for that matter.

"The result went our way, but I don't think the quality of batting was at all up to standard from both teams to be very honest," Kohli said. "I know they got bundled out early but even with our innings we were 100-3 hoping to make many more than we ended up with."

India slumped to 145 all out, yet England's second-innings effort meant the hosts were not punished.

Kohli spoke in the post-match presentation of a "lack of application on both sides" and said there was nothing amiss with the pitch early on.

"It was bizarre that out of the 30 wickets, 21 were from straight balls, and I feel that's just a lapse of concentration or indecision, or too many things going on in your head as a batter where you're playing for the turn but getting beaten on the inside," the India captain added.

"I honestly feel batsmen need to trust their defence more than they are presenting at the moment. Test cricket is all about that.

"You're not going to get a result in two days all the time, and this was a classic example of batsmen not applying themselves enough and that's why it was such a quick game.

"A lot of guys didn't get into the game and it's just a bizarre game.

"I don't think I've ever been part of such a Test match where things have happened so quickly. I've never experienced this."

Ravichandran Ashwin became only the fourth India player to take 400 Test wickets, reaching the landmark on a dramatic second day of the third match in the series against England.

The all-rounder trapped Jofra Archer lbw in England's second innings as he achieved the career feat in a low-scoring day-night match at the spectacular Narendra Modi Stadium.

Ashwin joins Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh on the distinguished list of those to claim 400 scalps in the longest format for India.

The 34-year-old is the 16th player to the milestone overall, getting there in only his 77th match. He is the second fastest to 400 too, behind only Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of games played.

Ashwin moved six wickets shy of the milestone by taking match figures of 8-95 in an emphatic defeat of Joe Root's side at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium last time out, having claimed 9-207 in the first Test.

He also struck a sublime century - the fifth of his career - in a magnificent man-of-the-match performance at his home ground in Chennai, where India levelled the series at 1-1.

After claiming 3-26 as the tourists were bowled out for 112 on day one of the game in Ahmedabad, Ashwin removed Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope before Archer became his 400th Test victim, given out for a two-ball duck after attempting a sweep shot.

Sachin Tendulkar - Test cricket's all-time leading runscorer - was quick to congratulate his compatriot on Twitter.

"Terrific consistency!" Tendulkar wrote. "Well done, keep it up. Joy to watch you bowl."

Captain Joe Root was England's unlikely star with the ball, claiming his first five-wicket haul as India were bowled out for 145 in the third Test. 

After managing just 112 in their first innings at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, the tourists needed quick wickets on day two to stay in the contest, India resuming their reply on 99-3. 

The hosts moved their score on to 114 without further loss in the first session, only to then endure a stunning collapse of their own, their last seven wickets falling for 41 runs.

Root grabbed the majority of them to finish with stunning figures of 5-8. His previous best in first-class cricket was 4-5, while he had also claimed a four-wicket haul in his Test career, against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in January 2020. 

His off-spin found help on a turning surface as he conceded the fewest runs in a Test five-wicket haul for an England player since Arthur Gilligan's 6-7, South Africa the opponents back in 1924.

It was also the first five-for by an England captain since Bob Willis' 5-35 against New Zealand in 1983.

Jack Leach backed up his skipper with 4-54 as India were restricted to a 33-run lead after both teams had batted once in the game, with the four-match series in the balance at 1-1.

India ended the opening day of the third Test against England firmly on top despite losing Virat Kohli in the final over, closing on 99-3 having bowled out their opponents for 112.

The day-night contest at the newly named Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad was viewed in the build-up as a chance for the seam bowlers to take centre stage, with the four-match series between the teams delicately poised at 1-1.

However, it was India's spinners who once again dominated proceedings, Axar Patel claiming career-best figures of 6-38 to continue his outstanding start in Test cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin - one of the star performers for India as they won the second Test in Chennai - offered superb support, taking 3-26. 

Johnny Bairstow was the first of several players to be undone by deliveries that failed to turn at all, though, as his return to the team saw him trapped lbw for a duck, leaving the tourists at 27-2 after opting to bat first. 

Zak Crawley (53) countered impressively, playing some glorious shots off the front foot in particular as he and Joe Root added 47, only for England to then suffer a stunning collapse, their final eight wickets going down for just 38 runs.

Ashwin had Root lbw for 17 – despite the England captain attempting to get a reprieve through a review – before Crawley's fluent half-century came to an end when he fell in similar fashion to Axar. 

Ollie Pope (1) and Ben Stokes (6) both perished with the score stuck on 81, England's batsmen left bamboozled once more on a turning surface to leave a long tail exposed. 

Axar claimed three of the final four wickets to go down, wrapping up the innings when Ben Foakes was bowled for 12. England had lasted just 48.2 overs, posting their lowest first-innings score in India. 

Following a superb century in the previous match, the in-form Rohit Sharma led India's reply with an unbeaten 57 that included nine fours.

Fellow opener Shubman Gill found it tougher going as he made only 11, while Cheteshwar Pujara departed for a four-ball duck to Jack Leach. The left-arm spinner also struck late to give his team renewed hope, Kohli chopping on for 27, but the hosts undoubtedly were the happier team at stumps.

Super start continues for Axar 

Axar is the first Indian spinner to take a five-wicket haul in a day-night Test, while only the sixth slow bowler to do so in such fixtures with the pink ball. 

Having missed the series opener through injury - a game England won convincingly - he has now taken 13 wickets in the series at an average of 10.61, stunning numbers for a player who has had to wait patiently for his chance in the format. 

Zak back, but England topple quickly 

With Crawley and Root together, England appeared to have overcome two early setbacks to reach 74-2 just prior to the first break in proceedings on Wednesday. The former justified the decision to pick him over Rory Burns, hitting 10 fours to at times silence the 40,000-strong crowd present. 

Yet the right-hander was not alone in falling into the trap of playing for spin that was simply not there, hit on the front pad by a delivery from Axar that instead of turning went straight on.

 

England captain Joe Root feels fortunate to have a "battery of fast bowlers" and says both James Anderson and Stuart Broad could play in the third Test against India.

The tourists have adopted a rotation policy in Sri Lanka and India at the start of a year in which they face such a hectic schedule.

Anderson was outstanding in England's victory in the first Test at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, but missed out as Broad came into the side for a second match at the same venue in Chennai that was comprehensively won by India.

England's leading Test wicket-taker Anderson is expected to return along with Jofra Archer for the day-night Test at Motera Stadium, which starts on Wednesday, while Broad will be hoping to retain his place.

Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are also in contention to charge in with the pink ball in Ahmedabad, where England need a win to keep alive their hopes of playing New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final.

Root refused to be drawn on the make-up of the side and did not rule out unleashing Anderson and Broad for the first time this winter, with England mulling over whether to go with an extra seamer and just one spinner.

Asked if Anderson and Broad may have played in the same team for the last time, Root said: "I think you'd be wrong to ever write off those two to do anything.

"The records they've had, the things they have produced - especially in the last couple of years - there's a reason they are up there with the top three bowlers in the world.

"They are consistently getting better the older they get, they are using their experience to their advantage all of the time and I'm sure there will be opportunities where they get to play together in the near future and much further down the line as well.

"You are talking about two of England's greatest bowlers and the records they set will be difficult for anyone to pass. I feel like there is a lot of life left in them both and you add in guys like Jofra, Woody, Woakes, all of these skilful bowlers around them, we are building a very good team, that they are very much at the front of."

Root added: "They [Anderson and Broad] have got a chance, it's a great selection headache to have all these bowlers putting in performances and giving us real variety so we feel we can pick a team that best suits the conditions and the best make-up we think is going to balance things very well."

Archer was not risked for the second Test due to a shoulder problem but Root says the paceman is fully fit and raring to go.

"He's a world-class performer, he's got all of the skills. He can bowl high pace, swing it both ways and obviously can make it talk off the seam," said the skipper.

"Along with the rest of the guys in contention, it's a very exciting place to be. To have a battery of fast bowlers to choose from is where we want to be and keep improving moving forward."

The fit-again Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow will also be hoping to get the nod.

Virat Kohli has hailed his close friend Ishant Sharma as the "stalwart of the Indian fast-bowling group" as he prepares to charge in against England in his 100th Test. 

Ishant will become the 11th India player to bring up a century of appearances in the longest format in the day-night contest at Motera Stadium, which starts on Wednesday. 

The 32-year-old has 302 Test wickets since making his debut against Bangladesh in May 2007 and Kohli paid tribute to his compatriot as he prepares to reach the milestone in Ahmedabad during a four-match series that is level at 1-1. 

"I have known Ishant for many years now. He started playing state cricket with me from his first season onwards," the India captain said. 

"We have been room-mates for many years in state cricket, in Ranji Trophy cricket. When he got selected for India, he was fast asleep in the afternoon, and I had to kick him off the bed and say you have been selected. And he wouldn't believe me. That's how far we go back. 

"I couldn't be happier for him. Playing 100 Test matches as a fast bowler is no mean feat. Especially in our conditions where things get so difficult, but he persevered, he kept working hard. 

"That has been his essence from day one. Very hard-working guy, very honest about the game, about his ability, about what he brings to the table. Very self-assured."

Kohli believes his friendship with Ishant has helped the fast bowler to thrive.

"I was most excited to work with him and really bring the best out of him as an attacking fast bowler," Kohli said.

"Something that clicked immediately [when Kohli took the captaincy]. He knows my mindset. He knows me inside out. There is a big trust factor. I know him inside out. I know he will respond to advice, he knows I am going to listen to his plans as well.

"I think it has worked really well for both of us. Not just for him as a fast bowler, but for me as a captain to have that kind of experience and the kind of consistency he brings along with the attacking lines and lengths he bowls.

"I have just been very, very happy to see him enjoy his bowling over the last four-five years and really become that stalwart of the Indian fast-bowling group.

"Couldn't be happier for him. Really, really excited I am going to be present on the field when he plays his 100th game. To see the smile on his face and just run in and bowl will be great to watch for a dear friend of mine."

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. 

Joe Root said England will aim to exploit any self-doubt from India's 36 all-out collapse in their last pink-ball outing as the third Test gets under way on Wednesday.

India claimed a 2-1 series win on the road against Australia in January but were beaten in the opener, falling to their record low score in just 21.2 overs in their second innings.

India quickly recovered from that humiliation, and the hosts also bounced back from an opening Test loss to England to tie this series at 1-1 ahead of the third test in Ahmedabad.

Root, who earned man-of-the-match honours in the series opener after scoring a double-century in his 100th Test, hinted India's nightmare in Adelaide may play on the minds of the hosts when under the lights.

"If we can exploit that [events in Adelaide] then that's something we will look to do," Root said.

"But you have to earn the right, make early inroads, build pressure for periods of time and put balls in good areas, challenging defences.

"That will be our focus; [36 all out] is more for them to worry about, for it to be in the back of their minds."

The 30-year-old insists the tourists are in a strong position with the series tied heading into a day-night Test in the world's largest cricket venue, Sardar Patel Stadium.

In India's only previous home day-night Test, against Bangladesh in Kolkata in 2019, seam bowlers dominated and Root is hoping that similar conditions this week could play into England's advantage.

"We are 1-1 with a pink-ball game two days away," Root added. "It's a great position to be in from our perspective. It's a very exciting prospect for the group.

"Playing against India in the subcontinent you expect the ball to spin and I'm sure at some point it will.

"But if conditions are more seam-orientated, then the experience of growing up in English conditions should be in our favour.

"It's about handling those conditions as best we can and try to exploit them with ball in hand."

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