Mohali: England are likely to recall Jos Buttler as they look to keep alive hopes of a second-consecutive Test series win in India when the third Test begins in Mohali Saturday.
The tourists trail 1-0 following a thumping 246-run defeat in Visakhapatnam and need to claim at least a draw to retain a chance of winning the five-match series.
Alastair Cook’s side can take inspiration from their heroics four years ago when they turned round a 1-0 deficit to clinch the four-Test series 2-1.
Middle-order batsman Buttler, who also keeps wicket in the shorter forms, is expected to play his first Test for a year in place of the struggling Ben Duckett, who has managed just 18 runs in the opening two matches.
Buttler averages exactly 30 in his 15 Tests to date but England coach Trevor Bayliss is confident he can bring his aggressive short-form batting style to the five-day game.
“I think he’s coming to terms with the fact that the best way for him is to play like he does in one-day cricket,” Bayliss said of the 26-year-old Buttler, who has a strike rate of 120.29 runs per 100 balls in his 81 ODIs, with four centuries and 12 fifties.
“He’s showing a lot of confidence in the nets, which spin just as much as the centre does, and he’s certainly hitting the ball as well as anyone,” Bayliss added.
England’s batting has ebbed and flowed with only Cook and Ben Stokes showing real consistency, however there have been flashes of brilliance from Joe Root, Moeen Ali and 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed.
England are likely to pick four seamers for the grassy pitch at Mohali with Chris Woakes expected to replace Stuart Broad, who has a foot injury.
Pace bowlers Steven Finn and Jake Ball are also in contention after left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari suffered from sickness and back spasms during his wicketless performance in Visakhapatnam.
India’s 246-run victory in Visakhapatnam was their second biggest against England in terms of runs.
Virat Kohli’s brilliance with the bat combined with spinner Jayant Yadav’s impressive showing on his debut means India are full of confidence but their talismanic captain is wary of complacency.
“We can’t afford to play loose cricket with this England team at any stage and we need to tighten the screws if we get a chance,” Kohli said in the UK’s Daily Telegraph.
Wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, who has been recalled from eight years in the Test wilderness after Wriddhiman Saha suffered a thigh strain in the second Test, is likely to be the only change.
India (probable): Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Parthiv Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav
England (probable): Alastair Cook (captain), Haseeb Hameed, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, James Anderson.