Over the years, Anderson versus Kohli has been one of the most keenly awaited on-field clashes for the world.
India and England will face each other in the third Test of the series from 24 February 2021. With the series tied 1-1 after two Tests, the teams have travelled to Ahmedabad to play the remaining matches at the newly developed Sardar Patel Stadium. This will be also India’s third ever pink-ball Test match and second on Indian soil. Both teams are keen to take upper hand in the third match, Test and some key battles within the game can play big roles to change the fate of the match.
James Anderson vs Virat Kohli
After taking a break in the second Test, 39-year-old Anderson is expected to return for the third. He does not have an overall great record in Asia, but he has matured over time. On this twin tour, he picked up six wickets against Sri Lanka in Galle, and five more in the first Test of this series, in Chennai. He took 3-17 in the second innings to decide the fate of the match. His victims were Shubman Gill, Ajinkya Rahane, and Rishabh Pant, the first two being clean bowled in the same over.
Over the years, Anderson versus Kohli has been one of the most keenly awaited on-field clashes for the world. Back in 2012/13, when the duo first played against each other in a Test match, Anderson got Virat at the Eden Gardens. The 2014 tour of England was a nightmare for Kohli, as he kept edging off Anderson. He finished with only 134 runs in the five-Test series, getting out to Anderson four times. However, since 2014, Kohli has not been dismissed by Anderson even once despite playing nine Tests against each other. Whether Anderson can use the pink ball to regain upper hand in the duel will be interesting to watch.
R Ashwin vs Ben Stokes
Ashwin recently became the first bowler to dismiss 200 left-handed batsmen in Test cricket. Ten of these wickets have been of Stokes. In fact, Ashwin has Stokes 10 times conceding only 178 runs in more than 80 overs bowled to him. Ashwin had dismissed Stokes five times in 2016/17. This time it reads three in four innings. Ashwin needs only six wickets to become the fourth Indian bowler with 400 wickets, and will be keen to reach there at the earliest.
It may look like a one-sided battle, but do not rule Stokes out. On his day he can dominate any bowler. While he has started bowling less and less over time, his batting feats have not been surpassed by many of his contemporaries. The pink ball typically takes some edge off spinners, which may level the Ashwin vs Stokes playing ground a bit.
Jasprit Bumrah vs Joe Root
In only four Test matches against England, Bumrah has picked up 18 wickets including a fifer at Nottingham. However, his bowling average against England is 26.27, while outstanding, is ‘human’ compared to his career average of 21.87. He will want to improve on that, and a pink-ball Test match will provide him with an ideal opportunity. Bumrah has already shown his class at home with the red ball after playing all his first 17 Tests abroad. He will have to play a key role if India are to qualify for the final of the World Test Championship at Lord’s later in the year.
Three of Bumrah’s 18 wickets against England have been of Root, twice on the 2018 tour and once in the first Test of this series. Root, the star of the English batting line-up, is in tremendous form. This year, he became the first batsman to cross 180 in three consecutive Test matches. This included a double hundred in the first Test. In fact, the second Test was the first instance for him in eight Test matches to go without scoring at least one fifty in a Test in India. England have a chance to qualify for the WTC final, and Root’s success is crucial for that. The battle between Bumrah and Root can define the course of the match.
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