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India have real battle on their hands, says Chappell ahead of Rajkot Test

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Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell

Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell (File image)

Melbourne: Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell feels England under Ben Stokes will give India tough competition in the remainder of the Test series but backed the hosts to win it.

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The marquee five-match series is locked at 1-1 after India and England pulled off thrilling victories in Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad respectively.

"As the home side India should eventually win a tough series, but it has a real battle on their hands," Chappell wrote in his column for 'ESPNCricinfo'.

"England under the aggressive leadership of Stokes are a far cry from the poorly captained Joe Root team that capitulated against spin on their last tour of the country," he added.

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In their previous tour of India in 2021, England, playing under Joe Root, had surrendered the Test series after winning the opener.

While star batter Virat Kohli will not be part of the series, the India team will be bolstered by the return of KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, who have been included in the squad for the remaining three Tests.

"India is a strong side and they also have a good leader in Rohit Sharma. They will be greatly strengthened by Ravindra Jadeja's and KL Rahul's recovery from injury, but that Virat Kohli will not return for the rest of the series is a blow." Shreyas Iyer has been dropped for the remainder of the series. The 29-year-old made 35, 13, 27, 29 in the opening two Tests and was guilty of not building on the starts.

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"Hopefully the selectors will now stop overestimating Shreyas Iyer's batting ability and learn to value Kuldeep Yadav's wicket-taking capability more.

"This India versus England contest is shaping up as it should: a tough five-match encounter between two talented sides," Chappell added.

The third Test will begin in Rajkot on February 15.

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