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England ‘licking lips’ at pink ball Test with India still reeling from Australia

IN cricket, ’36’ normally means the balls in a Twenty20 powerplay or the maximum runs possible in an over – but certainly not the score of an international team.

Until December 19, 2020, that is, when India were embarrassingly, crushingly routed by Australia for just 36 all out.

India were embarrassed in the pink ball Test in Australia after being bowled out for 36

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India were embarrassed in the pink ball Test in Australia after being bowled out for 36Credit: AP:Associated Press
England can't wait to unleash James Anderson with the pink ball

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England can’t wait to unleash James Anderson with the pink ballCredit: Getty Images – Getty

It happened with a pink ball. It was India’s last experience of batting against a pink ball.

Now, with Jofra Archer fit again and Jimmy Anderson still the world’s greatest exponent of swing, England believe they have the weapons to inflict similar wounds on India.

Not to bowl them out for 36, perhaps, but to create so much damage to their batting line-up that England win Wednesday’s Third Test and take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Asked about India carrying scars from the 36 all out, captain Joe Root said: “If we can exploit that, it’s something we’ll look to do.

“But you have to earn the right, make early inroads, build pressure and put balls in good areas.

“You have to ask good questions as a bowling group and take chances when they come. That will be our focus.

“Jofra brings something unique. He can do things others can’t and he’s a very exciting prospect.

“If he’s able to operate at 100 per cent, it would be great seeing him back.”

Stuart Broad is also set to play in the pink ball Test vs India

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Stuart Broad is also set to play in the pink ball Test vs IndiaCredit: Reuters

Another factor that gives England’s quick bowlers confidence is that all 20 wickets in India’s only previous pink ball Test at home – against Bangladesh in November 2019 – fell to seamers.

All-rounder Ben Stokes added: “Broady, Jimmy and Jofra have been licking their lips, I can tell you, about the pink ball. 

“It’s been a completely different game. We’ve seen over the years how day-night cricket has offered assistance to quick bowlers and the pink ball seems to do a lot more under the lights. 

“It was funny when the lights came on in training yesterday.

“The nets actually got really dangerous and the bowlers had to stop because we were worried some of the batters would get injured because the ball started jumping off a length and a few guys were hit. 

“Whether that’s going to be similar in the middle, we’re not sure.”

Freakish collapses can happen against the pink ball.

Remember, when England played their most recent pink ball match against New Zealand in Auckland in March 2018, they were 27-9 before ‘recovering’ to the heights of 58 all out.

With Archer and Anderson certain to return and Moeen Ali now in the UK, England will make at least three changes.

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England could also unleash Jofra Archer in the third Test

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England could also unleash Jofra Archer in the third TestCredit: Focus Images

Zak Crawley has recovered from his wrist injury and Jonny Bairstow is back from his rest period – and both could return.

Despite England’s hope that floodlights and pink balls will help their cause, it is unrealistic to expect the pitch in the new 110,000-seater stadium in Ahmedabad not to offer spin.

Root explained: “Yes, the pitch is going to spin at some point, for sure. It’s just a question of when. That’s always the case when we come here. 

“We experienced it very early in the Second Test – but it might not happen quite so soon this time.

“I think everyone deserves home advantage. That’s what makes touring the world so interesting.

“You have different challenges and, if you want to be successful, you have to have an abundance of skills.

“The last match was a great learning experience. We have a number who won’t have come across those conditions before.

“If we’re going to become the No1 side in the world, we have to manage it better.”

Meanwhile, former opener Marcus Trescothick is poised to be named full-time England batting coach and deputy to batting lead Graham Thorpe.

Another ex-Test star, Jonathan Trott, also applied for the role.

England cricket star Joe Root reacts to Second Test loss to India

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