India vs England, 3rd Test: R Ashwin and Co need to be ruthless to ensure batsmen have an easy target
India need to go for the kill and not let the last six England batsmen score more than 100 runs. Thereafter, India should be able to chase the set target down smoothly.
It's been a Test where everything has gone right for England but they have ended up doing most things wrong. Alastair Cook won the all-important toss but failed to capitalise on it, managing to post just 283 on the board. Despite starting on the back foot, they had the opportunity to claw back into the match reducing India to 204/6 but squandered the opportunity to take the lead.
In the end, India ended up taking a decent 134-run lead. Now, the visitors have their backs against the wall going into day four, trailing by 56 runs with six wickets in hand. It's not just England who have played some poor cricket but credit must also go to India for they way they have fought back in the series. After being on the back foot for most of the first Test, they bounced back to win the second Test in Vizag a comprehensive manner. After losing the toss in the third, they managed to bundle England out for a mediocre total. Then the lower order rallied once again to give the hosts a crucial lead. They now find themselves firmly in the driver's seat. Cook, Moeen Ali, Jonny Biarstow and Ben Stokes - have all been sent back to the hut. And with England still trailing by 56 runs, India should straightaway go for the kill in the first session of day four.
England still have Joe Root at the crease, with Gareth Batty joining him as a nightwatchman. With Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes still to come, India cannot afford to take it easy. Buttler batted well in the first innings and he has displayed his ability to turn matches single-handedly in the limited-overs internationals. Woakes has been one of the most improved all-rounders in the last few years. The pitch has started to take turn and if England do manage to add another 200 runs to set a target of around 150, then it could get tricky for the Indian batsmen to bat fourth on a crumbling wicket.
Root's wicket will be the key in the first session. The fast bowlers have time and again provided important wickets at crunch situations. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav would look to remove Root as soon as possible. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja can then apply the ultimate choke just like the last innings of the second Test. They can pounce upon the fact that the England lower order has faltered time and again. Also, uncertainty hangs over Haseeb Hameed's injury, who didn't come out to open the batting in the second innings.
The plan would be simple for India - go for the kill, don't let the last six score more than 100 runs. Thereafter, the Indian batsmen should be able to chase the set target down smoothly, which would not only put them 2-0 up but also ensure they have a huge psychological advantage going into the fourth Test in Mumbai. England should have done that on second and third day but they let the hosts off the hook. However, if the past is anything to go by, applying a KO shouldn't be that difficult for Virat Kohli and his men.
Morgan's comments come after Joe Root urged the ECB to 'prioritise' his side following the Ashes defeat, implying there has been too much focus on limited-overs cricket since 2015.
Australia yet again rolled over England in the Ashes for a below-par score of 188 as 17 wickets tumbled against pace on the second day of the fifth test on Saturday.
"I honestly believe that I'm the best person to take this team forward, but if that decision is taken out of my hands, so be it. But I do have the appetite to carry on," said Root.