Cricket: India v England - Third Test
Wednesday December 5
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Sky Sports 1 3am
It’s not good enough from Alastair Cook. The unflappable England captain may have scored two centuries in two Tests and led his team to a famous win to level this series at 1-1, but there’s something crucial he keeps getting wrong: the toss. He’s none for two with the coin and, despite the monumental Wankhede display, winning in India is a tough enough challenge without giving the home side the chance to bat first.
That aside, there are tougher calls for Cook to make: Ian Bell is available again after parental leave and is likely to return – despite a poor subcontinent record – with Jonny Bairstow or possibly Samit Patel making way. There’s also the issue of whether Stuart Broad will retain his place, given that Joe Root (with one catch as substitute fielder) has contributed to removing more Indian batsmen than the Twenty20 skipper, who’s wicketless after two matches. The selectors have shown strong loyalty to Broad, and he’s rewarded them in the past – but if Steve Finn is fit, we could see him make an overdue series debut.
One selection is clear: Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann will play the remaining Tests, having outbowled India’s trio of slow bowlers in Mumbai. They were aided by a pitch that offered both turn and bounce, and the worry is that Kolkata could be a slower, lower turner. But with both causing such problems in Wankhede, Cook will have faith they can do the same here.