Virat Kohli has called on a bumper crowd in Ahmedabad to make life difficult for England as India’s firebrand captain heads into Wednesday’s crucial day-night third Test seemingly brimming with confidence.
The pink ball fixture at the Motera Stadium marks the first international at the ground since it was revamped for a new 110,000 capacity and while Covid-19 rules will mean the attendance is capped at 50%, Joe Root’s tourists still face their largest audience since the 2017 Boxing Day Test in Melbourne that drew 88,000 fans on day one.
Kohli credited the return of spectators in Chennai last week – around the 12,000-mark each day – for helping to power his side to their series-levelling 317-run win and will look to harness this advantage once more under lights.
Kohli said: “The crowd plays a massive role. I’ve experienced that as a batsman – walking onto the field with 30,000 fans booing you or clapping when the bowler’s running into bowl. It does play on your head so we would love for that atmosphere to be present to make life more difficult for the opposition and really get behind the team.
“That’s what playing at home is all about, it’s not only about the conditions on the field but 50,000 people and their energy behind your team. It does push you in the right direction and it does put a lot more pressure on the opposition.”
While India have requested another dry pitch to aid their spinners, England’s seamers have been salivating at the prospect of bowling with a pink SG ball that has swung during their training sessions. Jimmy Anderson, expected to be back after being rested specifically for this fixture, could well be in his element. However Root held off from confirming his XI on Tuesday, with up to five spots being debated by the captain and his head coach, Chis Silverwood, and one last look at the surface required.
Root said: “With the limited information we have on this ground we’re going to make sure we give ourselves as much time as possible before we make that decision.”
Kohli, however, knocked down the notion of the pink ball assisting the tourists any more than his own team – a fair point given the rise of India’s pace stocks in recent years, led by the similarly returning Jasprit Bumrah, and the fact they took all 20 wickets in their only other day-night Test at home.
He added: “I’m not bothered about England’s strengths. We have beaten them in their home where the ball does way more. If it’s a seam friendly track for them it is for us too. There are many weaknesses in the opposition as well as strengths. We are ready for anything that comes our way.”