Who to Back in the Third Test between India and England?

Author: Last Updated: February 13, 2024
Ben Stokes big smiling England team

Thursday February 15 sees the start of the third test match between India and England. The five-test series is beautifully poised at 1-1. What can we expect from this crucial match that is being played in Rajkot?

It’s been a thrilling series to date. Two tests that have ebbed and flowed and often with surprise twists, that’s test match cricket at its best.

England won the first test despite trailing by 190 runs after the first innings. India secured another good first innings lead in the second test (143 ahead) and there was no England comeback this time with the Indians winning by 106 runs.

The third match of a five test series is always a key one, especially if the score is 1-1. A win for either side will leave the other needing to win both of the remaining matches to win the series.

Bumrah in Form

England will again have to contend with the pace of  Jaspit Bumrah who took nine wickets (six in the first innings) in the second test. The Indian captain is now top of the ICC bowling rankings and will again be a difficult proposition.

India continue to be without their other top pace bowler Mohammed Shami who was injured in the World Cup. Their batting line-up has also been affected with the continued absence of Virat Kohili. Middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer has back problems and like Kohli won’t be playing anymore in this series.

Even without Kohli, India have managed to put up a good first innings in the match. They’ve scored 436 and 396 in their two first innings so far. Yashasvi Jaiswal scored a double century in the second test and England need to cope better with the opener in this third test. India are 4/9 at bet365 to win this match.

The same applies to Shubman Gil who hit a century in the second innings of the last test. But for that, England could have been 2-0 up in the series. In both the Indian innings in the second test, one batter dominated with no one else reaching 50.

England have finally got a decent opening partnership at present. Crawley and Duckett are averaging 52.25 in their four innings with the lowest partnership being 45. It’s 5/4 at BetVictor that England has the highest opening partnership with India 8/15.

Ollie Pope needs to rediscover the excellent form shown in the second innings of the first test when scoring 196. His other three innings in the series have only totalled 47 runs.

The form of Joe Root is disappointing at present. He’s only scored 52 runs in four innings and that has to improve. Johnny Bairstow only has a highest score of 37 and needs to get in and stay in during this third test.

Pressure on Inexperienced Spinners

Spin bowling is so important but England have received a big blow ahead of this third test. Jack Leach won’t be playing for the rest of this series against India.  He’s become a bit injury prone in the past year and missed the whole of the Ashes series last summer.

One big plus for England so far has been new recruit Tom Hartley. He took a match-winning 7-62 in the first test and has taken 14 wickets so far. With Leach out of the series more pressure is on him, Bashir and Ahmed to do well in this third test. 

They are an inexperienced trio though but have coped well to date. Joe Root will again play an important role with the ball. England are 17/2 at William Hill to win this test. It’s 17/2 with William Hill the game ends in a draw.

James Anderson hasn’t always done so well on tours to this part of the world. Five wickets were taken by the 41-year-old in the second test and a few more will be needed this week.

It looks like being a fascinating match with both sides missing key players. India will be buoyed by their victory in the second test and may well go 2-1 up with two to play.

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