Rohit Sharma likely to play at Ageas Bowl
Stuart Binny has bowled only 20 overs in two Tests of this series. In the second innings at Lord's, he was not called upon to bowl at all.
Although he has played a match-saving innings, signs from India's training sessions leading into the Test suggest they are ready to go back to the more orthodox combination of playing six specialist batsmen with MS Dhoni batting at No. 7 and with four specialist bowlers to follow.
The sixth batsman, if India carry on with the trends from the nets, will be Rohit Sharma, who has scored two centuries in his six Tests but was left out to accommodate the extra seam-bowling allrounder.
Leading into the first two Tests, India seemed more or less certain about the combination. While the likely playing XI would get into action right away after the ritual warm-up over a football game, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and R Ashwin would await their turn in the nets. Just before Ageas Bowl, though, Rohit has been getting long hits in the nets. On Friday, he was the first one to get a net.
One of the reasons to go back to the orthodox combination could be that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been providing the runs down the order, and the quick bowlers have maintained a certain amount of intensity over long spells, which was one of MS Dhoni's concerns over the last two tours outside Asia.
Also, the pitch at Ageas Bowl is more orthodox than Trent Bridge and Lord's. Trent Bridge looked brown and flat, which might have necessitated the buffer of an extra seamer so that the main pace bowlers did not bowl themselves into ground. Lord's was green, probably greener than it ever has been, which would have meant ideal conditions for Binny, who likes to put the ball there and let the conditions take effect.
Ageas Bowl is a hard, quick pitch with good bounce, but it not overly green to afford excessive seam movement. India seem pretty happy about the surface. In a long Test series, they do not want their bowlers to have to slog for their wickets.
India could of course go ahead and change the combination on the morning of the match, but Binny has hardly been getting the attention of the coaches that he got in the lead-up to the first two Tests. In fact, he did not even get a hit in the main net on Friday.
As far as the role of bowling a few tight overs when waiting for the new ball goes, India will have to rely on Rohit's offspin. Not to mention M Vijay, who took Moeen Ali's crucial wicket at Lord's and has been bowling more in the nets than usual.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo