India and England will start on equal footing when they clash in the pink ball third day-night Test match on an untested pitch at Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium here in Motera, near Ahmedabad, from Wednesday, says former India captain Gautam Gambhir.
The four-match Test series is tied 1-1. Both matches were played at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, with England winning the first one and India the second. The fourth Test, beginning on March 4, will also be played at the same venue, in Motera, though it will be a day match.
“It’s a new stadium, a new wicket and the Test match will be played with the pink ball. So, nobody knows how the ball will move, seam or bounce. Plus, it’s a new venue for both teams, hence both teams will start on equal terms,” Gambhir said on STAR Sports.
In October 2015, the Gujarat Cricket Association decided to reconstruct the existing structure of the Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium and the new stadium was ready by January last year.
But the pitch remains largely untested. The only matches of note played on the virgin pitch were the seven T20 games of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this January. But it is the multi days matches that really assess pitches before five-day Test matches are played on those surfaces. That has not happened in Motera and that is why Gambhir says it is anybody’s guess how the pitch will behave.
“If we talk about Chennai, then Team India knew the pitch conditions. But in Motera, neither India nor England can judge the condition of the pitch. Joe Root would’ve been happy, if someone would’ve told him that that they will enter the pink ball Test with 1-1 score. India have the arsenal of fast bowling, which could be troublesome for England, and vice-versa. England also has a fast bowling attack. It will be interesting to see the kind of wicket the teams get,” Gambhir said.
Former India left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra said England have enough in their fast bowling arsenal to match India.
“When we talk about pacers, England doesn’t have any shortage of pacers; Joe Root [England captain] will have to charge them on the ground. For example, in the second Test in Chennai, experienced bowler Stuart Broad wasn’t seen in his best form, he didn’t even play the first Test match. In the second innings, his form was back but he got the ball very late in the game,” he said.
“Jofra Archer [fast bowler] is very talented. I believe among all the young talented bowlers we have seen in the past two-three years, Jofra Archer is number one. In the-form Jofra Archer is in, especially if he’s in form and fit. It will benefit the England team.”
Nehra said Root would be slight confused while picking the XI.
“About James Anderson, I don’t need to say much about his talent. Joe Root will be in a fix as to which three bowlers he should go ahead with or should he pick two bowlers. He will also have to analyse the pitch,” said the former Delhi bowler.
“Even if India sees a similar wicket like Chennai, England still has a strong line up the way Stuart Broad bowls leg-cutters and bowls wicket-to-wicket. Jofra Archer bowls pace and bounce, Anderson has experience with his swing and reverse swing. England has everything in their armoury.”