As the squads reach the industrial hub Manchester, it’s all to play for in the serious end. Locked at 1-1, a positive result can lift the morale of either side for the fifth and final Test at The Oval.
Ashwin in, but who out?
When Moeen Ali was wrecking India in the final innings at Southampton, Ravichandran Ashwin was cooling off his heels in the pavilion. To say the least, India lacked a spinner.The think tank might, in fact must, rectify that, and as Sandeep Dwivedi, National Sports Editor of The Indian Express, reported from Manchester, Ashwin was seen practicing slip catches alongside Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane – the possible slip cordon.
Ashwin’s inclusion hints at a 6-5 combination, which points towards a a possible chop and change in the batting line-up.
Gambhir possible to get a hit
Shikhar Dhawan’s inconsistent run with the bat continues. May it be the irresponsible shot off Ali’s offies or his callous approach to play the moving ball, especially around the fifth stump, he has been found wanting. The home side has attacked the southpaw by bowling in a brilliant channel outside the off-stump. The line makes it impossible for Dhawan to shoulder arms, and all he could manage is a thick edge to the keeper or slips.With the form Dhawan is in at the moment, Gautam Gambhir might be fancying his chances which mean Rohit Sharma will make way for Ashwin.
Little electricity in pace battery
An over-utilised Bhuvneshwar Kumar is fighting a swollen ankle, but was reported to have bowled for 50 minutes in the nets. With Ishant Sharma ruled out, India has the back-up of Ishwar Pandey, who is yet to don India whites, and Varun Aaron, who is just one-Test-old. If Pankaj Singh’s not-so-impressive debut is to be taken into account, the lanky seamer might well make way for the the Jharkhand speedster Aaron.
Hosts stick to winning formula
England will look to continue from where they left it at Southampton. Right from Cook to Ian Bell and to Moeen Ali, they had hardly put a foot wrong. The Three Lions got another moral-booster with Anderson not found guilty and hence, the pace attack will only add up to India’s unsettled opening pair. Moeen Ali has been a revelation, and will continue to linger in the minds of Indian batsmen, who, in the nets, were finding ways to counter his gentle offies.
Alastair Cook might have missed a gritty century at Aegis Oval, but he has found his lost touch. Zimbabwean Gary Ballance can be a rock in the face of an adversity, and Ian Bell also knows how to manifest the attack to the opposition.
Written by: Saikat Ghosh