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Joe Root and Virat Kohli: contrasting body languages going into the third Test Getty Images

There was still a glimmer of hope left in Virat Kohli‘s Indians after the Edgbaston defeat to England. After all, India were in it till the end, and the 31-run margin was a competitive one. The capitulation at Lord’s, however India were bowled out for 107 and 130 has drawn severe criticism from all strata of cricket followers. The margin of defeat by an innings and 159 runs in about seven sessions was humiliating. England, 2-0 up in the series, will look to seal the Pataudi Trophy in the third Test, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

How to turn things around? India’s top three Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, and Cheteshwar Pujara scored 36 between them across two innings. Vijay has been in terrible form for some time. He bagged a pair at Lord’s after scoring 20 and 6 at Edgbaston. In South Africa earlier this year he averaged 17, which brings his overseas average for the year to 12.80. Pujara averages 14.75 this year; Rahul, 8.12; and Ajinkya Rahane, 17.50. To add to India’s woes, wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik‘s four innings have amounted to 21, twenty of which have come in a single innings.

Who are the replacements? Shikhar Dhawan is one. Dhawan has been dealt with somewhat unfairly. He was picked for the first Test in South Africa and was dropped immediately. Exactly the same happened in England. To be fair, Dhawan (17.75 this year overseas) has not inspired much confidence, either.

Rishabh Pant and Karun Nair are almost certain starters for the match. If Pant comes in for Karthik (whose glovework has been sub-par as well), whom will Nair replace? It is likely that Pujara and Rahane, men more experienced than Rahul, will get another chance. If that happens Pujara may have to open with Rahul. Perhaps a change of position may help boost his confidence: he averages 116 at the top (though he has never opened outside Asia).

That may mean Nair will bat at three and Pant at six. Given that England are unlikely to provide a pitch that will offer any assistance to a spinner (they may even go in with an all-pace attack at Trent Bridge), Kuldeep Yadav will have to make way for Jasprit Bumrah, subject to fitness, of course. If Bumrah is unfit they will go back to Umesh Yadav; it is unlikely that they will pick Shardul Thakur.

India likely XI for third Test at Trent Bridge: Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah (if fit, otherwise Umesh Yadav).

England, unlike India, had an enviable problem of plenty. They boasted of two bowling all-rounders Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, Players of the Match for the first two Tests, and proven all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was cleared of an affray charge by the Bristol Crown Court recently. James Anderson and Stuart Broad have both complained about the tight schedule, but neither will want to miss a potentially series-clinching Test.

Putting an end to all discussion, captain Joe Root has confirmed that Stokes will replace Curran at Trent Bridge. This means that Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid will both retain their places. With Stokes available for selection, it was an enviable selection dilemma that the team management had but it is surprising that they axed young Sam Curran who effectively helped them win the first Test at Edgbaston with his brilliant all-round performance.

Talking about the selection Root said this is one of the most difficult decisions he had to make as a captain. “Ben is desperate to get back playing cricket. He s desperate to get out there, put in performances and concentrate on his cricket now. He feels ready to play,” said the England captain, adding, “It’s probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as captain”.

Curran had taken five wickets and scored 87 runs at Edgbaston and at Lord’s he scored 40 in England’s only innings and picked up one wicket in India’s first innings.

“What Sam has done so far has been nothing short of high class,” Root said.

England lead the five-match series 2-0 and victory in Nottingham will see them retain the Pataudi Trophy.

England XI for 3rd Test: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope , Jonny Bairstow (w), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

Predictions: History is the only aspect India can somewhat cling on to at Trent Bridge. India have lost only twice here, least on all major English grounds. On the other hand, England’s win-loss ratio of 1.294 is their worst among their six main home grounds.

But it ends there. Be it batting, seam bowling, or even fielding and wicketkeeping, England stand head and shoulders above India. To make things worse, Kohli is coming off an injury and England have Stokes back. A comeback seems extremely unlikely.