Mohali, Nov 25:
A confident India will be looking to extend their 1-0 lead against England in the third Test match of the current five-game series at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) IS Bindra Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.
With first blood drawn by the hosts in the second Test at Visakhapatnam after drawing the first match in Rajkot, India will look to carry forward their performance to take an 2-0 lead.
The build-up of the match has been shadowed by India skipper Virat Kohli’s alleged ball tampering controversy.
A British tabloid recently published images of Kohli allegedly applying saliva to shine the ball after chewing on some sticky substance during the first Test at Rajkot.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) didn’t take any action as the incident wasn’t reported by the match referee or the umpires. England also didn’t lodge any official complaints about the incident.
Kohli has brushed aside the allegations, saying the controversy was created to shift the focus away from the match.
“This is just to take focus away from series, to me newspaper article doesn’t matter over ICC’s decision,” Kohli told reporters here on Friday.
“I don’t read newspapers, was told five days later that such things happened, I just laughed it off,” he added.
With conditions at Mohali favouring batsmen, India will likely name an unchanged side for the match — except for keeper Parthiv Patel’s induction — while the visitors may make a few changes to their playing eleven.
According to reports, England have confirmed that Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes will return to the side for the match.
India have been served well by their batsmen in the series so far. Except for the opening pair of Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay, all batsmen have contributed to the team’s cause, displaying sparks of their individual brilliance.
Regular wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha has been omitted from the India squad after developing a strain in his left thigh.
It paved way for the inclusion of Parthiv Patel, who was called up after an eight-year gap. His batting abilities will give the hosts valuable support to their lower-order.
India will ponder long and hard over their bowling combination. The key question is who will be picked to provide support to star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
All-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav gave a good account of themselves in the second Test. Yadav was picked ahead of leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who was impressive in the first Test.
But changing a winning team remains unlikely for the home side.
Medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has been brought into the team might as well get a chance to play as the Mohali pitch traditionally favours the fast bowlers.
Despite the defeat, England have improved on their overall game, with batsmen scoring decent number of runs and bowlers picking up wickets.
But they are likely to be without their premier pacer Stuart Broad, who was seen limping in the second Test.
The visitors will need to produce a consistent performance over five days to square the series.
The toss can play an important role in the outcome of the match as the side winning it will look to bat first and score big, adding pressure on the opposition.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Ben Duckett, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, Gareth Batty, Steven Finn, Zafar Ansari, Haseeb Hameed, Jos Buttler (wk), Jake Ball.