England pacers “licking their lips” after seeing what pink ball can do, says Ben Stokes

James Anderson impressed in the first Test against India

Jofra Archer is set to return for England

England’s Ben Stokes fired a warning shot at India ahead of the pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad. The vice-captain claimed the English pacers are confident about their chances after having trialled the pink ball over the past week.

The day-night fixture between the two sides begins on February 24.

Both India and England have admitted they are unsure how the SG pink ball will behave, especially under lights.

Traditionally the pink cherry has favoured the quicker bowlers, which will bring England’s pacers back in the game after the second Chennai Test where they toiled hard without much success.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Ben Stokes was confident the bowlers will bounce back, as he previewed the 3rd India vs England Test.

“This is going to be a completely different game. I can tell you Jimmy (Anderson), Jofra (Archer) and Stuart (Broad) have been licking their lips. We’ve seen how day-night cricket has offered assistance to quick bowlers, especially when the lights come on. The pink ball does seem to do more.”

The twilight period is regarded as a crucial passage of play in all pink-ball Tests. It has historically favoured the faster bowlers, with the conditions making it difficult for batsmen to pick the ball.

Ben Stokes reiterated the same notion, revealing how England had to stop their practice session during the period over fears that it was becoming too dangerous for batsmen.

“When the lights went on yesterday the nets got really dangerous. The quick bowlers had to stop because we were worried some batsmen were going to get injured. The ball started jumping off a length and a few guys got hit. We had to take the bowlers out to the middle to finish their spells. Whether it will be the same once the match starts, we don’t know, but we’ve definitely seen a difference so far.”

The quicker bowlers have a much better average in pink-ball Tests than spinners. Since the first day-night Test in 2015, pacers average 24.85 with the pink ball in hand. However, the Test bowling average of spinners with the pink ball is 33.76.

This clear advantage for the quicker bowlers has led to suggestions that England may consider going in with four quicks in the third Test. With Moeen Ali flying back, England will be forced to make at least one change to their side.

Jack Leach has had a good series and will act as the frontline spinner. While Jofra Archer and James Anderson are expected to return, the other spots are still up for grabs.

It remains to be seen whether England go with Dominic Bess to replace Moeen Ali. If the visitors want to field three seamers instead of two spinners, they can also pick one of Olly Stone and Stuart Broad.

With the surface set to assist the quicks, Ben Stokes will also have to put his hand up and bowl more than he has done in the first two Tests against India.

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