Spin-sick England seek red-ball respite

Ahmedabad, Mar 03 (PTI): A ruthless India will not take their foot off the pedal while taking England for another “spin ride” in the high-stakes Test series finale starting Thursday, aiming to not just complete another dominant home performance but also realise their World Test Championship dreams.
Virat Kohli’s men need at least a draw to maintain the current 2-1 scoreline to qualify for the Lord’s final against New Zealand while England at best can heal Tim Paine’s January scars by letting Australia a lucky passage to the summit clash with a win.
While a draw always seems a safe option in a game like this but Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, with their attacking instincts, wouldn’t like to play a defensive game which at times can be counter-productive.
India laid a venomous trap on the refurbished Motera and with the pink ball, demolished England inside two days, messing more with their minds than getting any tangible help from the track.
Axar Patel bowled ramrod straight and England had their heads “spinning” from the start. The ploy has worked well for the hosts since the second Test in Chennai. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Zak Crawley felt that the track for the fourth Test looks “similar” to what they got in the previous two matches but the red ball which skids less off the surface compared to the pink one promises to make it a better contest between the two teams.
This is a Test match where England have little to gain save salvaging a bit of pride in a drawn series while India have everything to lose.
While there won’t be any Jasprit Bumrah for the final Test, one of the finest exponents of bowling on sub-continental tracks, Umesh Yadav, is expected to be back in action.
It remains to be seen whether Ishant Sharma or Mohammed Siraj partner him. For England, poor team selection has also contributed to their shoddy batting where Joe Root (333 runs), with his first Test double hundred, managed to maintain a fair gap (187 runs) between him and the second highest scorer Ben Stokes (146).
Not having a second specialist spinner in Motera, didn’t exactly make the team management look too smart, especially after Joe Root scalped a career-best 5 for 8.
Jack Leach (16 wickets) has done his bit but he does have his own set of limitations and with his pace, which is on an average 10km less than Patel, he is unlikely to always trouble the batsman.
But he would again play a significant role on a similar sort of track and may expect Dom Bess for company. Bess was impressive in the opening Test in Chennai but since then, has cooled his heels.

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