Gareth Batty set to replace Zafar Ansari in the third Test against India
The pitch conditions at Mohali where the third Test between India and England will take place has meant Gareth Batty looks set for a return to the England line-up in place of his Surrey team-mate Zafar Ansari.
England were looking to play four seamers in the third Test which begins on Saturday, on a pitch that is historically known to assist seamers, but after having a look at the nature of the pitch that will be used for the game, the visitors have decided to stick with their team of three spinners.
The 39-year-old off-spinner, who came back to the national set-up during the series against Bangladesh will get his opportunity after Zafar Ansari didn't train on Thursday owing to a back injury, which all but sealing his non-selection for the Mohali Test.
England are likely to make three changes to the side that took to the field in Vizag. Ben Duckett's poor show in the first two Tests has meant that Jos Buttler has earned a Test recall while injuries to both Ansari and Stuart Broad means that they will both miss the third Test.
While Batty will replace Ansari, Broad, who played through the pain barrier in the second Test is likely to be replaced by Chris Woakes, who is fit and ready to take his place in the side after being rested for the second Test.
England were looking forward to Mohali as they felt it was their best opportunity to field an extra fast bowler in this series but the pitch looks dry with plenty of cracks and has resulted in the visiting side opting to stick with their three spinner policy and follow India in picking two off-spinners in their line-up.
Woakes admitted he isn’t great at reading the pitch but expected the ball to turn. He said: “I’m useless at reading pitches but looking at the wicket I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see that the ends are a bit more trimmed than the middle of the pitch so therefore we’re expecting it to spin.
“Whether that’s from day one I’m not too sure but at some point it’s going to spin and we’ve gone with three and three in the last two Tests and the wicket doesn’t seem to look too different to those.
“Just off the top of my head I’m guessing we’ll go with the same. I know there has been talk of the fact that there’s generally a bit more here for the fast bowlers and talk about going four and two but I honestly don’t know if that’s what we will do or not.”
The conditions for the third Test now means that not only will Batty play after the win over Bangladesh in the first Test but also means reserve fast bowlers, Steven Finn and Jake Ball continue to warm the bench on their long tour of India.