India captain Virat Kohli (centre) led the squad through the training session at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Friday. The third Test against Alastair Cook-led England starts on Saturday.(PTI)
India captain Virat Kohli (centre) led the squad through the training session at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Friday. The third Test against Alastair Cook-led England starts on Saturday.(PTI)

India aim to hurt unsettled England with spin in third Test at Mohali

England face the conundrum of whether to play a third spinner, another pacer or bolster the batting line-up in the third Test against India, starting on Saturday at the PCA Stadium in Mohali
By Ashutosh Sharma | Hindustan Times, Mohali
UPDATED ON NOV 25, 2016 07:46 PM IST

A third spinner, another pacer or to bolster the batting line-up -- that’s the conundrum for the England camp on the eve of the third Test match at PCA Stadium Mohali. India on the other hand are sitting pretty with a 1-nil lead and are unlikely to change the winning combination, apart from one forced change of Parthiv Patel coming in for injured Wriddhiman Saha.

All eyes will be on Virat Kohli to do an encore and not repeat the 2012 mistake wherein India took the lead but eventually lost the series. Anyhow in the last two days of buildup, the general consensus in the two camps is that they are not looking at the typical Mohali wicket which has pace and carry. India coach Anil Kumble hinted that much on Thursday, when he said that it has gone slower than probably what it was in the 90s.

Kohli also didn’t divulge much other than that the pitch looked good to him.

“Combinations are something we never disclose. I saw the wicket and there is nothing different about the wicket. It’s a Mohali wicket and soil is what it has been. It a wicket on which a team which plays better should win,” he said. England have put up spirited fights in the first two matches, and put hosts under considerable pressure in Rajkot. But the 246-run Vizag win has put visitors on back foot and the onus will be on skipper Alastair Cook and his men to come up with answers.

While Stuart Broad is set to be replaced by Chris Woakes, England skipper Alastair Cook also confirmed that spinner Zafar Ansari is unavailable for selection due to injury. Jos Butler, England’s limited overs specialist, is set to replace Ben Duckett, who had an ordinary run so far in the series. After the team news, Cook weighed in on the pitch saying that it’s a dry track.

“It looked dry yesterday. Historically, it is one of those wickets which offer pace and carry. We will have to see tomorrow,” he said.

Cook men almost had India on the mat in Rajkot and the English skipper said he can expect more from his spinners, who have upped their game in the presence of spin consultant Saqlain Mushtaq.

“The difference with our spinner since Bangladesh is that we have been able to hit better areas and we’ve able to keep the run-rate lower than it was. All four spinners have a better trajectory on the ball,” Cook said.

India have so far managed to handle the English spinners well and their first innings efforts of —488 and 455—in the two Tests seems to point to that. Adil Rashid has take 13 wickets so far, while Moeen Ali has seven, compared that to India whose spin department looks more assured with Ravichandran Ashwin returning to form and Jayant Yadav having a dream debut.

English spinners threat is not lost on Kohli who said that while he respects the quality both Rashid and Ali bring to the English side but at the same time he believes that “his team is good enough to counter them.”

But all said and done the toss will certainly gain importance as India will look to romp home the advantage and double the lead.

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