Wednesday, 24 February 2021
The third Test, starting today, played with the pink ball, will not only generate interest among Indian and English audiences but will also be keenly followed by Australians.
The outcome of the day-night Test at the world’s biggest cricket stadium, the refurbished Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, near Ahmedabad, will decide who among India, England and Australia will join New Zealand in the World Test Championship (WTC) final. While England have to win the third and fourth encounters here, India cannot afford to lose either. Virat Kohli’s men have to register at least one win to make it to the WTC final. And if this series ends in a 1-1 draw, Australia will make it to the final.
Skipper Kohli offered a dead bat when mid-day asked him about the qualification permutations for the WTC final in England later this year. “You can’t play for those kind of reasons. We are not looking to win one and draw one. We are looking to win both. For us, these are two games of cricket and that’s the only thing we are focused on. What it does afterwards is a conversation for later. That’s a reality not present right now. In the present moment, we are preparing for tomorrow, ready for the grind for five days, wanting to win a Test match for India and then move on to the next one,” said Kohli on the eve of the match.
“One day at a time is something we have followed for years now. There is no point running far ahead into the future where you have no idea what’s going to happen. We are going to focus on what we can do as individuals in the present moment,” he added.
Both India and England have had humiliating results in the last pink ball Test they played. While India were bowled out for 36 at the Adelaide Oval against Australia in December last year, England were bundled out for 58 by New Zealand at Auckland in 2018. Kohli, however, suggested that both results were aberrations. “Both are bizarre experiences for two quality sides because on a particular day, things are meant to happen in a certain way and whatever you do, is out of your control. Barring 45 minutes of bad cricket, we dominated that Test. These are experiences you learn from.”
Meanwhile, the records in the last 15 pink ball Tests suggest that seamers have enjoyed the edge over spinners. The fast bowlers accounted for 354 wickets as against just 115 by spinners. In India’s first day-night Test (against Bangladesh) at the Eden Gardens in 2019 too, pacers accounted for as many as 27 wickets while just one wicket fell to spin. This Motera track however, is expected to be a rank turner.