Date: March 4-8, 2021
Time: 9:30 AM IST
Venue: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
The World Test Championship enters its final match as India square off against England in the final Test of the 4-match series in Ahmedabad. Things are very interestingly poised as a win or a draw would confirm India’s berth in the finals. However, a loss for Virat Kohli’s side would open the doors for Australia to qualify as the second finalist, alongside New Zealand.
Meanwhile, England have already been eliminated from the WTC race after their loss in the Pink-ball Test. But Joe Root’s side will still have a lot to look forward to coming into this contest. England have an opportunity to draw the series 2-2 in Ahmedabad, which would be a huge result considering India’s dominance at home in the last few years.
While India have been exceptional in this series since their loss in the first Test, the England batsmen have failed to counter India’s spin duo of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin. Rohit Sharma (66 and 25*) was one of the best batsman on show, where everyone else seemed to be struggling against the Pink-ball.
On the other hand, Zak Crawley (53) was one key positive for the Three Lions in the previous match and he will look to build on the good form he showed in challenging conditions. In the bowling department, Jack Leach will again play a vital role for the visitors and would be hoping to get some assistance from the other end, hopefully in the form of Dom Bess and last match’s 5-fer hero Joe Root.
The stage is perfectly set for a fantastic series finale at the world’s largest stadium (Narendra Modi Stadium) in Ahmedabad. With so much to win and everything to lose, both the teams will come out all guns blazing in this high-voltage contest.
The hosts are expected to go with the same batting line-up that has featured in the series so far. However, there could be one or two changes in the bowling line-up. Since Jasprit Bumrah has been released from the squad due to personal reasons, there is a spot of one pacer in the Playing XI. While Mohammed Siraj could be a worthy replacement, India are likely to include experienced Umesh Yadav, who has recently recovered from calf muscle injury. Washington Sundar, whose role was subdued in the previous match, could also make way for Kuldeep Yadav.
The visitors will have some major concerns regarding their team selection for this contest. They will definitely need to include an additional spinner, considering the nature of pitch at Narendra Modi Stadium. Stuart Broad is expected to make way for off-spinner Dom Bess. While James Anderson is expected to be their front-line seamer, they might include either Jofra Archer or Mark Wood to give some variety to the 2-pacer attack.
Head to Head (Last 5 matches)
Players to watch out for:
The left-arm spinner has been sensational in his debut series. He has troubled the opposition with his variations and has proven to be a perfect partner for Ravichandran Ashwin. In the 2 matches so far, he has bagged 18 wickets at an impressive average of 9.44.
The England spinner has probably been the only positive for the visitors in the last two matches. While India have dominated the England bowlers, the left-arm spinner has posed quite some challenge to the hosts. He has scalped 16 wickets in 3 matches and has been the best England bowler by far.
The England skipper has been the leading run-scorer in the series so far. He has been the best batsman among both the teams, scoring 333 runs at a scintillating average of 55.50. Root is probably the only batsman who has looked comfortable at the crease against the Indian spinners.
The Indian captain has shown certain glimpses of his class in the series but has failed to register a big score. He has scored 172 runs in the three matches, with 72 being his highest score. As we are set for the final match of the series, it will be exciting to see if Kohli can put an end to his century drought.
Probable Playing XI
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Washington Sundar/Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes (wk), Dom Bess, Jack Leach, James Anderson, Jofra Archer/Mark Wood