India and England head into a crucial third Test starting today at the world's biggest cricket stadium with more than a series between two of the biggest rivals at stake, according to their pace spearheads Ishant Sharma and Jimmy Anderson.
With the four-match series tied at 1-1, both sides need a win in Ahmedabad to be able to keep alive their hopes of reaching the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
India just need to win the series to get through, while England have to win by 3-1. A tied series would let Australia through. The tension is rising in both camps who each registered a crushing win in the first two matches. "We have got to win two Tests matches, it is as simple as it gets for us," said Anderson who took crucial wickets in England's 227 run win in the first game. "I have just one thing on my mind," responded Sharma, India's 32-year-old veteran who will be in his 100th Test. "That is to win the next Test, win the series and qualify for the World Test Championship," Sharma said.
India captain Virat Kohli wants his side to approach the pink-ball Test against England like a normal five-day match but with the sessions reversed. Kohli's century helped India crush Bangladesh by an innings and 46 runs in their maiden pink-ball Test in late 2019. "Last time we experienced that the first session is probably the nicest to bat, when the sun is out and the ball doesn't do much," Kohli told a video conference on Tuesday.
"But when it starts to get dark, especially during that twilight, it gets very tricky. The light changes and it's difficult to sight the ball. "And then under the lights, it's like playing the first session in the morning in a normal test match. The ball does tend to swing a lot.
"So I think it's a reversal of roles and something that you need to adjust to quite quickly as a batsman."
England captain Joe Root reckons batting collapses have become a "trend" in pink-ball Tests and cannot overstate the importance of the "vital first 20 deliveries" to his team mates ahead of the third Test. "It seems to be a trend, and it's something that as a batting group you need to make sure that you stop," Root told a video conference on Tuesday.
"One thing that stands out to me is the vital first 20 balls -- making sure you get used to tracking the ball, get used to the conditions and being very aware of how things can change throughout the day."