By Khan Ahmad Darvesh
Captain Virat Kohli is looking to give India an unassailable lead in the five-match series with a big score against England in the third test, starting here on Wednesday, overcoming his prolonged lean patch.
Kohli’s last international century came in November 2019. He crossed 40 runs on two occasions in the current series but was not able to score big. However, the expectations are always high from him. He lost his wickets in the first two test matches on balls that went outside the off-stump and he is expected to present a tighter technique in front of such balls in the Headingley.
The form of Chateshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane is also a matter of concern for India but this has been put to rest after the duo batted for almost 50 overs on the fourth day of the Lord’s test which dragged the match to the fifth day after which the fast bowlers gave India a win and lead the series by 1-0. Openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul’s have been a positive aspect for India in the batting field.
Rahul, who replaced the injured Mayank Agarwal in the squad, has grown in confidence in each subsequent innings and seems to be quite sure of which deliveries to play and which ones to leave, which is critical for success in England. Rohit too seems to be in very good form and needs to be sure of when to play his trademark pull shot as he was dismissed on two occasions in the series.
India’s potency of the world-class attack has strengthened with the arrival of Mohammad Siraj who bowled brilliantly on the fifth day at Lord’s and has consistently impressed many with his precise bowling. India last played at Headingley in 2002 when they registered their famous win by an innings and 46 runs. None of the players of the current team has experience of playing on this ground and it will be interesting to see how quickly they adjust to the situation. England hopes that with the arrival of David Malan, their weakness of the batting department will decrease.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prithvi Sauv, Suryakumar Yadav.
England: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, David Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Olly Robinson.