Heading into the fourth Test against England, India cannot lose the series but still have plenty at stake.
India v England, 4th Test
Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
4-8 March, 9:30am local time
Both teams went into this series in contention to make the World Test Championship final but only one of them, India, can now make it.
Nevertheless, England have a huge role to play in determining who takes on New Zealand to be crowned the ICC’s first World Test Champions.
Only a series win will be enough to see India through to the final. A series-drawing win for England in the fourth Test would see the WTC final be a strictly southern hemisphere affair between New Zealand and Australia. Suffice to say, Justin Langer and Tim Paine will both have eyes on Ahmedabad.
While England have suffered bad defeats in each of the past two Tests, Australia’s hopes of making the final are well and truly alive.
England started this series with an impressive 227-run win in Chennai, which saw key contributions made from No.1 to 11 in the team. That victory came off the back of a 3-0 series win in Sri Lanka. Joe Root’s team know how to win in Asia. Australia need them to rediscover that this week.
Remember last time
In a match that nobody predicted, India beat England inside two days to claim a 2-1 series lead in the third Test, with left-arm finger-spinner Axar Patel leading the way.
Playing at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in his home state of Gujarat, Patel collected the best match-figures in day-night Test history.
On day one he took 6/38 as India bowled England out for 112. He picked up a wicket with his first ball of the match when he trapped Jonny Bairstow plumb in front.
On day two, after India was bowled out for 145, he repeated the trick by bowling Zak Crawley with the first ball of the innings. He finished with figures of 5/32 and a match haul of 11/70 – the most wickets ever taken by a bowler in a day-night Test.
There were a few positive notes for England in the 10-wicket defeat. Crawley’s 53 in their first innings oozed class, while Jack Leach took 4/54 in India’s first innings. There were also career-best figures for Root, who took 5/8.
England will be hoping at least two of those three things are cornerstones of a better performance in the fourth Test.
Look out for
Zak Crawley – 23 years old and playing in India for the first time, Crawley produced a first innings you simply had to be impressed by.
A pushed drive off Jasprit Bumrah for his first boundary suggested he was seeing the pink ball well. When he found the rope twice in the next over from Ishant Sharma it became clear he was a threat to India. He went on to hit 10 boundaries in his 83-ball stay and was the lone England batter to pass 20.
He fell for a duck in the second innings but there is plenty for England to be excited about in Crawley.
Axar Patel – There are threats left, right and centre from India. Rohit Sharma has been the series’ most consistent batter, Ravichandran Ashwin its most consistent performer and Virat Kohli has repeatedly threatened to dictate terms.
As good as the veterans have been, Patel will still be the centre of plenty of discussion in the England camp. Just two Tests into his career, the 27-year-old has already taken 18 wickets at 9.44, with three five-wicket hauls to his name.