India vs England: President Ram Nath Kovind to Inaugurate Motera Stadium Ahead of 3rd Test
Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, will inaugurate the Motera Cricket Stadium in Ahmedabad ahead of the third Test between India and England on Wednesday (February 24). Union Home Minister Amit Shah will also be there for the occasion. The president is on a two-day visit to Gujarat, where he attended the third convocation of the Central University of Gujarat (CUG) at Gandhinagar as the chief guest on Tuesday. Facing the challenge of avoiding a defeat to keep their hopes of reaching the World Test Championship (WTC) final alive, India will step onto a Motera ground that has been reconstructed from scratch and hence is largely unknown to them.
To add to the challenge of a new pitch and the shiny seats — that may make sighting slightly tough for fielders, the Indians will have to contend with the pink ball too. Despite being one of the three leading cricket bodies of the world, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was the last one of all the boards to get its team to play day-night Test cricket.
Up until now, Virat Kohli’s boys have played just two Tests with the pink ball with the last one seeing them succumb to a record low total and a crushing defeat at the Adelaide Oval against Australia in December. India were shot out for 36 in the second innings of that first Test against Australia.
However, what can work for India is that both those Tests happened after England played their previous day-night Test match. England’s last Test with the pink ball was in March, 2018 against New Zealand in Auckland whereas India played their first pink ball Test in November, 2019 and the second in December, 2020.
There is a possibility that India may ditch their strategy of playing three spinners which they employed in the first and the second Tests at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai as the pink ball is known to do a lot for seamers.
Most of the wickets in day-night Tests have been taken by seamers and India’s first and only home Test with pink ball (against Bangladesh) saw Ravindra Jadeja bowl just two overs across two innings and R Ashwin bowled just five.
Pace bowler Umesh Yadav, who scalped eight wickets in that Test is back after being declared fit and is likely to start. Ishant Sharma, who will be playing his 100th Test, took nine wickets in that game and he too looks sure to start.