Bairstow was rested for the opening two matches of the four-Test series against India but is expected to return to the side for the day-night third Test; follow text commentary on Sky Sports’ digital platforms from 8.30am, Wednesday
Last Updated: 22/02/21 2:21pm
Graham Thorpe hopes a “rejuvenated” Jonny Bairstow will help England recover from their crushing second-Test defeat to India when they meet in the day-night third Test in Ahmedabad.
England lost by 317 runs on a turning pitch in Chennai as India levelled the four-match series at 1-1.
Both teams will now have to cope with the challenge of a pink ball as they meet in a day-night Test for the first time.
Bairstow looks set to come back into the England side, having gone home for a break after making some useful contributions in Sri Lanka earlier this year.
“Jonny has practised very well over the last few days. He has looked fine in the nets and maybe that mental freshness can be a really positive,” said England batting coach Thorpe.
“The players come in a little bit more mentally fresher. They are more rejuvenated when they come back in after a break. Sometimes the benefits are you go away, you don’t overthink things as if you had been playing, and that can be beneficial sometimes.
“Jonny did well in Sri Lanka. He’s a good player of spin and has a decent record.”
While spinners have taken the majority of the wickets so far in the series, that’s expected to change for the third Test.
In India’s previous day-night match on home soil against Bangladesh 14 months ago they took all 20 wickets with pace.
“Our practice has been getting used to the pink ball again and picking up the length,” said Thorpe.
“It’s really about how well the players adjust to those conditions whether they are batting or bowling and the team who reacts the best will have a good chance of coming out on top.”
Despite the changing conditions, England will still have to deal with the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin, who is the leading wicket taker so far in the series with 17.
“He’s a fine bowler in those conditions,” said Thorpe.
“In terms of working with the players it was important to get a good clear mind and push that game away and try and reflect on what we could have done better. It comes back to similar things, trust your footwork and trust in your defence and stay calm.
“Also you need to be positive in your mind in terms of your ability to score runs and hopefully that gets you in a better position to play whether it’s attacking or defending. We know we have another tough week ahead of us but we are looking forward to it.”
Ben Stokes in particular has struggled against Ashwin, falling to him 10 times in Test cricket.
“It’s a challenge,” reflected Thorpe. “Ben has different styles of playing and can build into an innings as well. He’s also got that ability to put the bowler on the back foot and that is certainly something he shouldn’t forget.”
Thorpe is also hoping to see more runs throughout the order, with captain Joe Root England’s leading scorer by far so far.
“Joe has been in really good form this winter. We try to constantly talk around building partnerships together and hopefully that leads to first-innings runs, which will be crucial. We were well short in the last Test match. Now it’s clear in the minds and looking forward to this Test.”