India takes on England in the third Test in Ahmedabad beginning Wednesday, with the series tied at 1-1 in the Pink Ball Day and Night Match at Motera.
In the battle for supremacy between old foes, once again, there will be a number of key battles that will define the outcome of the match. We look at 5 such key battles which can potentially decide the fate of the match.
Virat Kohli vs James Anderson
Virat Kohli played one of his finest knocks in the second innings of the in the second Test in Chennai, helping India post a big total against the English. Bowled over for a duck in the previous innings, Kohli came back and put on a masterclass on how to bat in difficult conditions.
The Indian captain has not scored a century for a while and for the master batsman, that will be in the back of his mind, and what better a stage than at the largest cricket stadium in the world.
While other batsmen struggled to stay in Kohli dug in and was looking set for a big knock. The Indian captain has scored two fifties as of now in the series and will be keen on converting his next start into a big one.
However, Kohli will not have it easy against the most successful pace bowler in Test cricket history, an old foe of his as well. Anderson changed the course of the series opener with a devastating spell of reverse swing in the second innings and is well capable of an encore with the Pink Ball.
He will also be a handful with the new ball and is expected to get more seam movement and swing than the other bowlers.
Cheteshwar Pujara vs Jofra Archer
Cheteshwar Pujara has been the rock in the Indian battling line-up in Test cricket and has been at his best when the team has needed his services the most.
Pujara has often thwarted the most dangerous attacks and at number 3 will be required to continue to do his thing against the visitors, who have an able pace attack. In conditions that could help the seamers, Pujara will definitely be one of India's most important batsman and will need to bat time whilst the rest keep the scoreboard moving.
Coming hard at Pujara will be Jofra Archer, who has been an absolute ace for the English since he made his debut. Archer, who did not play the last game, will be well-rested and has the pace and accuracy to trouble the best of the lot.
Joe Root vs Jasprit Bumrah
Rested in the last Test match in Chennai, Jasprit Bumrah will once again be back to lead the attack for India and look to bag the big scalps from the England camp.
In conditions that could favour the bowlers, Bumrah with the pink-ball will be a dangerous customer and Virat Kohli needs him to fire against a formidable batting line-up.
England captain Joe Root, who has been in fine form recently, admitted to being outplayed in the last Test and is unlikely to be very happy about it, even his individual performances.
To counter Root, the hosts are likely to turn to their ace pacer and Bumrah, time and again has delivered the goods for India.
If Bumrah can keep Root down to a low score, there is added pressure on the rest of the batting, which is something India will be gunning for.
Ben Stokes vs R Ashwin
Two very influential all-rounders on either side – Ashwin and Stokes – have the ability to turn the contest around single-handedly.
Ashwin has been on a roll in recent Tests and once again is expected to have a similar effect in the game.
Stokes, however, has not yet lived up to his lofty standards and will be itching to get a big performance in before it’s too late.
The largest cricket stadium in the world is the perfect stage for that, but remember, Ashwin loves bowling to left-handed batsmen.
Will his guile cause Stokes enough trouble? For Ashwin, there is the added attraction of the 400-wicket milestone and he would surely not mind Stokes being the scalp.
Both India and England depend heavily on their ace all-rounders and as of now, Ashwin has come out on top. But will the change in the colour of the ball change Stokes’ luck?
Rishabh Pant vs England Spinners
The Indian wicket-keeper batsman has been in a very good place in terms of form and confidence, which augurs well for the hosts. There is no doubting that he can take the game away from the opposition very quickly and give nightmares to the bowlers – just ask Jack Leach.
With plenty of focus on the seamers due to the Day-night conditions for the 3rd Test, not allowing the likes of Jack Leach to settle in will be right on top of Pant’s mind.
If he can produce the kind of performance he did in the first Test or the way he batted in Australia in the last two Tests, England could be in for quite some trouble.
However, if Leach wins the battle, one expects England will look to ride that boost in confidence and polish off the tail as quickly as possible.
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