Virat Kohli is full of confidence after scoring runs in the second Test, R Ashwin is back to his best following a five-for and India look primed to cast their home spell on the opposition again – the signs are ominous for England going into the third Test match in Mohali, but this English side are packed with so much talent that all they need is the slightest of opening of the door to sneak right back into the series.
There is no doubt that England were outplayed by India in the second Test match. After winning the toss, India batted well in the first innings, before Ashwin led with the ball to keep England to a low score. Always chasing the game, England failed to show the kind of determination and fight India did in the first Test, eventually falling to a big defeat.
While the toss will be crucial again, England know, win it or lose it, what they must do – put a big first innings score on the board. If India post 500 in the first innings, England will need to get at least 450 to make this a contest. Because the bigger the first innings margin, the more the pressure that the chasing team will be on, which in these conditions, where the spinners will come into the game on days three, four and five, will be too much to bear.
What India did really well in Rajkot was that they got close to England's first innings score, which in turn gave them a chance of saving the Test match. As hard as England tried and as well as they batted, it was always going to be a losing battle for the away side the moment they decided not even to try and chase down the target in the final innings of the second Test, instead choosing to go with a blockathon.
That allowed Kohli to put in attacking fields and it was always a matter of when rather than if India would win the match.
Apart from the batting, England also need to make sure they get India's main batsmen out early. The first two Tests have showed that India have started to become a little over-reliant on Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, so if England can get those two batsmen out quickly, they will have a really good chance of keeping the home side to a low total.
Kohli will expect more of a contribution from the openers – Murali Vijay and KL Rahul – while Ajinkya Rahane is due a knock after failing in the first four innings of this series. The lower-middle and lower order have batted really well so far, and India need that trend to continue in order to grasp the first innings advantage, which, as has been pointed out, is so vital in these conditions.
Where to Watch Live
India vs England third Test is scheduled for a 9.30am IST (4am GMT, 11pm ET) start. TV and Live Streaming information for the match is below.
India: TV: Star Sports HD1, Star Sports HD3, Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
US and Canada: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV Online.
Middle East: TV: OSN Sports Cricket. Live Streaming: OSN Cricket Live.
Australia: TV: Fox Sports 1. Live Streaming: Foxtel.
New Zealand: TV: Sky Sport 2. Live Streaming: Sky Go NZ.