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Third Test, day one: England taught harsh lessons by India as Sharma and Jadeja cash in

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If you had asked most England fans ahead of this series whether they would have taken 1-1 heading into the third Test, I’d wager heavily that most would have bitten your hand off. 

In truth, this series has been far more even than anyone could have predicted and if nothing else India are now aware they are facing a side who are more than capable of not just capitalising on mistakes but forcing the hosts into their own. 

A week break back in Abu Dhabi should have lowered some handicaps on the golf course and refreshed this England side as they enter what is now effectively a three-match series. 

A small, yet unnecessary, distraction in the form of Rehan Ahmed’s visa issue has now been resolved and he takes his place in a starting XI that for the first time in the series features two seamers.

Mark Wood and James Anderson were both effective working solo alongside a fleet of spinners in the opening two matches but Ben Stokes and Brendan McCullum clearly feel the conditions in Rajkot now allow them a bit more umph. 

The team undeniably has a more balanced look to it now and with Anderson’s incredible ability to hold up and end in the manner of a spinner, Stokes will lose little from an economy-saving perspective. 

One truth remains unquestioned though – you must score runs, big runs, to win in India and while some in England’s top order have stood up over the first two matches more is certainly needed from others.

Joe Root’s bizarre dismissal in the second innings in Vizag was one of a great player trying to hit his way back into form, while Jonny Bairstow has continually thrown away promising starts.

It’s hardly controversial to say that England will need something from one, or preferably both, before these three matches are up if they are going to win this series.

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