India vs England day-night Test: Let there be light, and a pink ball!

With Jasprit Bumrah set to wear India whites at his homeground for the first time and Ishant Sharma on the verge of joining the elite 100-Test club, there will be plenty of highs for the home team.

An aerial night view of the world largest cricket ground - Sardar Patel Motera Stadium with a capacity of 1,10,000 spectators.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

As India and England return to action in the third Test on Wednesday after a well-deserved break, they will have to overcome the fear of the unkonwn on multiple counts at the plush Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad.  

First and foremost, it will be the first international match after the stadium's renovation to accomodate more spectators than any other cricket venue in the world. The stadium hosted the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy knockouts last month but the surface is still unknown to First Class cricket. From a lush green look it wore four days ago, the strip at Motera has been converted into one that’s eerily similar to the pitch at Chepauk in Chennai. Since the match could end up being a huge factor in determining New Zealand’s opponent for the World Test Championship final, both teams will have to get their combination right.

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The third game of the four-Test rubber will be played with the pink ball which changes the scenario even more. Both India and England had a forgettable outing in their last pink-ball outings. No doubt the conditions at Motera will be drastically different than Adelaide (where India was bowled out for 36 last year) and Auckland (when England was bundled out for 58 in 2018), it will be interesting to see if either side carries the baggage of the lows while batting against the pink-ball. 

With Jasprit Bumrah set to wear India whites at his homeground for the first time and Ishant Sharma on the verge of joining the elite 100-Test club, there will be plenty of highs for the home team. India will have to take a call on whether to draft in Umesh Yadav - for his stupendous record on home soil - to bolster its pace attack as the pink ball favours the seamers. If India opts to field three pacers, Umesh, having recovered from a calf strain he suffered in Australia, will come in for Kuldeep Yadav who was underbowled in the second Test.

READ| Virat Kohli: Not bothered about England's strength and weaknesses
England, too, have to deal with multiple headaches to get a winning ensemble out on the park. Despite its rotation policy, it will be interesting to see if the management fields pace trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer together for the first time in the series.  
Among the batsmen, with Zak Crawley having recovered from a freak injury he suffered ahead of the series-opener and Jonny Bairstow being available for selection, the visiting side will hope the duo will take the load off captain Joe Root and all-rounder Ben Stokes.

Preparations in full swing

Despite the stadium having been formally inaugurated by former US president Donald Trump last year, President Ram Nath Kovind will be in attendance on the first day of the Test. In order to ensure that the teams’ preparation isn’t affected ahead of the game, a huge shamiana has been erected in the premises of the stadium complex for the function.

The workers were busy with the finishing touches in Motera on Tuesday.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

Not only does the plot have 11 pitches but also has a ring of fire, a circular LED lights arrangement, instead of floodlight towers. But the highlight of the stadium is the provision of four dressing rooms with amenities including a gymnasium. It will come in handy in future with double-headers in shorter-format cricket.

It remains to be seen if the 22-yard strip lives up to the expectations in the back-to-back Tests.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-capt.), K.L. Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (w.k.), Wriddhiman Saha (w.k.), R. Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj. 

England: Joe Root (Capt.), Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes (w.k.) Dom Bess, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood. 

On-field umpires: Nitin Menon and Anil Chaudhary; Third umpire: Shamshuddin; Fourth umpire: N Ananthapadmanabhan; Match referee: Javagal Srinath. 
Match starts 2.30 p.m.

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