England vs. India – 3rd Test Preview

We’ve waited a long time for the next instalment of this enthralling Test series, and it is finally upon us. The third England vs. India Test.

After India’s domination in the second Test, England find themselves on the back foot, being 1-0 down. Given that they have omitted struggling batsmen Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley from their third Test squad, one thing is for certain, England will have a new opening partnership, most likely Haseeb Hameed, who had a less than impressive return to the Test team last game.

Dawid Malan, who has been in great form in limited overs cricket, has been named in the squad and is likely to make the playing XI and slot in at three to allow captain Joe Root to bat in his customary number 4, and with two centuries and one fifty already in the series, why would you fix what isn’t broken?

Root had yet another scintillating Test match, and another Lord’s masterclass with his majestic 180*. How frustrating to score so many runs and still wind up on the losing side. But Root himself will know he cannot carry the team for much longer, it’s time the others pick up the slack and start performing. Root simply cannot do it alone and he shouldn’t have to.

England’s fast bowling resources are dwindling with yet another bowler being ruled out through injury, this time it’s Mark Wood after sustaining an injured shoulder in the previous Test. Talk is that his replacement could be either Craig Overton or Saqib Mahmood, who has had a good run in limited overs cricket this season. My vote is for Mahmood – a young fast bowler, able to reach speeds of up to 90mph and extract reverse swing, he could be a handful for India.

While England have some selection headaches to mull over, India have some good news with Shardul Thakur being announced fit, and with cloudy skies predicted for the course of the next few days, and the fact that Ravindra Jadeja has failed to make any sort of impact with the ball throughout this series thus far, India may look to bring in Thakur in his place.

Jadeja does provide depth to the lower batting, but Thakur is no slouch with the bat and could provide some stability to the lower order. India will also be bolstered by the fact Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane both had valuable time in the middle and scored priceless runs in the last Test, which in all honesty, was the turning point in the match. If not for them, things could have gone very differently. Let’s also not forget the incredible batting from India’s newest bowling all-rounders (just kidding), Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Wasn’t that fun to watch? Now all India need is for their captain to come to the party and their batting problems will in essence be sorted.

Mohammed Siraj has been a shining light for India since his arrival to the Test arena. Full of passion, purpose and fight, he exudes all these characteristics whenever he steps onto the field, be it with the ball or bat in hand. The way he bowled on Day 5 was exceptional. He never gave up and this is what India’s youth of Siraj and Pant have brought into the side, with this “never say die” attitude, and they have shown exactly how beneficial blending youth and experience can be for your team.

We should hopefully have a full 5 days of play in the next Test, the only thing that might come into play is bad light late in the day, which in itself is a pain. When time was lost in the ongoing WI vs. Pakistan second Test, they started the next day 30 minutes earlier. Why that can’t be done in Tests in the UK boggles the mind.

With some bad blood brewing in this series, specifically between India and James Anderson, things will get interesting, and if Anderson plays, watch out – things could get fun, because as we know, Jimmy does like to show his frustration quite easily.

India are full of confidence, but with three Tests still to go, they know they can’t rest on their laurels and need to keep their foot on the gas. A win in the 3rd Test means they cannot lose the series and with World Test Championship points up for grabs, it’s all to play for.

The 3rd Test starts at 12pm (SA time) on Wednesday 25th August.

Posted in The Popping Crease.