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Select Team: Should India include Pandya?

By HARISH KOTIAN
February 22, 2021 08:00 IST
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Hardik Pandya

IMAGE: All-rounder Hardik Pandya could make his comeback in the third Test against India in Ahmedabad, starting on February 24. Photograph: BCCI
 

Fresh from their 317 run victory in the second Test against England in Chennai, a confident Indian team will aim to continue their winning momentum in the third match in Ahmedabad, starting on February 24.

You don't tinker with a winning combination is the norm in cricket, but with conditions set to change vastly for the day-night third Test in Ahmedabad, India will need to make a few changes to the playing XI.

The pink ball will present a tough challenge for the batsmen on a pitch expected to be greener than normal to maintain the colour of the ball.

This could be England's best chance of getting back at India, with the conditions expected to more English than Indian.

Conventional wisdom is that India's big strength spin will have a minimal role in the third Test.

The ball is expected to move around, at least for the first couple of days, and India could go in with five bowlers, including three pacers, which brings all-rounder Hardik Pandya into contention to make his return to Test cricket after a long gap.

Jasprit Bumrah, as expected, will be back in the playing XI after a much deserved rest for the second Test in Chennai.

Pandya hasn't played Test cricket for nearly 30 months and it would be interesting to see if he has regained full fitness as far as his bowling is concerned.

If Pandya is back to bowling at his best, it adds another dimension to the Indian team. Pandya is capable of delivering with both bat and ball, and as such he gives the team the option of either playing an extra spinner or a batsman.

If Pandya gets the nod, then he could most likely replace Mohammed Siraj, who was included in the playing XI but was forced to play the supporting act on a pitch offering lots of turn right from the start.

Kuldeep Yadav may get the axe, but left-arm spinner Axar Patel is likely to retain his place after an impressive debut including his maiden five-wicket haul if India opt to play five bowlers.

There are no changes expected in the batting department after their convincing showing in the second match but the young Shubman Gill will need to come good in Ahmedabad.

India could also look at playing an extra batsman by bringing in either K L Rahul or Mayank Agarwal on a seamer-friendly track and go in with four bowlers.

Should India include all-rounder Pandya? Should they bring in Mayank or Rahul?

Who do you think should be part of India's playing XI for the third Test in Ahmedabad?

Please pick your team by clicking on the boxes below:

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England's tour of India 2021

England's tour of India 2021