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India to be wary of tricky twilight conditions in Ahmedabad

AHMEDABAD: Indian players will have to focus more on their batting during challenging twilight conditions in a pink ball day-night Test against England later this week, opener Rohit Sharma said Sunday.

Sharma’s comments came on the heels of India’s disastrous show in their last pink ball match against Australia in December.

The vaunted Indian side was skittled out for 36 — their lowest-ever score in Test cricket — as Australia romped home to an eight-wicket victory.

India and England are tied 1-1 in the current series and the third match beginning Wednesday will see the home team contesting in a day-night game once again.

The match will go ahead at Ahmedabad’s revamped Sardar Patel stadium, the largest cricket venue in the world with a seating capacity of 110,000.

Sharma, who missed December’s Adelaide game with an injury, said the conditions become tougher for batsmen when the sun is just about to set.

“It’s a little challenging because the weather and light suddenly changes. You have to focus slightly more,” he said. “All our batters are aware that they have to be mindful of this session.”

Stakes are high in the game for both India and England, who are vying with Australia to make it to the final of the inaugural World Test Championship at Lord’s in June.

New Zealand have already qualified for the final.

But Sharma said India would try not to think too much about making it to the final and instead focus on the matches at hand.

“We are happy to qualify and play the final [at Lord’s] but there are little steps to take before that. We have to focus on the two Test matches and see what happens after that,” he said.

“It is important not to focus too far ahead as it adds too much pressure. We must stay in the present and focus on the job at hand.”

The swashbuckling batsman also defended the turning pitch that India dished out for the second Test in Chennai, saying India were well within their rights to prepare a surface that assists spin.

India won the second test by 317 runs to level the series after England struggled to negotiate spin on a track where Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin notched centuries in the first and second innings, respectively.

“The pitch is the same for both teams, so I don’t know why there is so much discussion about it. Pitches have been prepared like this in India for years,” Sharma said.

“Every side takes advantage of home conditions even when we travel… When we travel they [opponents] make our life difficult. We make pitches according to our preferences, that’s why it’s called home advantage. Otherwise take away home advantage and ask the ICC to make a rule to prepare the same pitches in India and outside India.”

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