With India vs England test series being locked up at 1-1 going into the 4th test, this test is of utmost importance for both teams to get a win and go into the final test with a lead. Can India come back from their below-par performance at Headingly and overcome their woes or, have England gathered enough confidence to go and blow away India again in the 4th test at Oval.
India’s Déjà vu situation
India lost the 3rd test by an innings and 76 runs to England and was bowled out for 78, one of their worst batting performances since getting all out for 36 against Australia at Adelaide.
In 2014, India was in the same situation in England where they won the 2nd game and ended up losing 3 games consecutively. India do have their backs against the walls but Virat Kohli and his team thrive under pressure and hopefully, past results won’t play on their mind
Throughout the series, the middle order of India has severely underperformed and not contributed enough. In the 3rd test, the bowling unit also looked a bit tired. After the 3rd test, I am sure Ravi Shastri is going to bring about changes in the lineup.
Ravi Ashwin is a necessity
With Michael Vaughan making the #Bringbackashwin go viral and the Indian team needing to bolster their tail-end batting, Ravichandran Ashwin should surely be included in the team at the Oval.
One of the key reasons for bringing in Ashwin is going to be his success against Joe Root. Root has been dismissed by Ashwin 5 times in 15 matches. Ashwin’s inclusion will definitely bolster India’s batting lineup having scored a 106 against England in Chennai in 2021.
Who he replaces is a question that is unanswered. If India still goes with a 4+1 attack he is likely to replace Jadeja whose fitness is in doubt, if not he is also likely to replace Ishant Sharma who in the previous game looked really out of steam.
Shardul Thakur could also come in for Ishant, who picked up crucial 4 wickets in the first test and also provides better batting cover.
Vice-Captain at career-low form:
Ajinkya Rahane is widely loved by Indian cricket fans for his positive, friendly attitude and the fact that he’s the closest thing they’ve seen to Rahul Dravid.
The Vice-Captain, however, has had a dreadful series with scoring only 95 runs in 5 innings with an average of 19. His highest score has also been 61 showing how inconsistent he’s been in this series. Coming in at 5 India does not have a replacement of Jinx’s quality but there are two options that can be considered.
Hanuma Vihari who has previously performed well for India is an option and also can bowl some useful off-spin.
Mayank Agarwal who started his test career with a bang in Australia by scoring 2 centuries in the series is also a good option, but that means shifting KL Rahul lower down the order, which can be done but doesn’t make sense as he’s been in great touch.
England in pole position
England looked a completely different side with Dawid Malan at No.3 and Haseeb Hamid opening the batting, both getting scores of 50+.
England’s squad has also been bolstered with the likes of Mark Wood and Chris Woakes both returning to the squad, which gives them the opportunity to rest the likes of Jimmy Anderson if needed.
Jos Butler to miss out
Jos Butler is out for the 4th test as he’s just had a second child. This shouldn’t be a problem for England as he wasn’t in the great form anyway and is straight away replaced by Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow goes behind the wickets.
England’s bowling depth
Ollie Robinson, Craig Overtan, and Jimmy Anderson all performed superbly in the 3rd test and with the likes of Chris Woakes and Mark Wood coming back, this is an opportunity for England to rest someone if they want and keep a fresh bowling attack for the 5th test.
Chris Woakes is likely to come in and replace Sam Curran, as he can do well with both bat and ball. Curran has had a below-par test series and could use a rest.
Anderson even at the age of 36 is bowling like he’s in his prime. Either of him or Ollie Robinson could be replaced by Wood so that they can be at their best for the final test.
Where: The Oval, London
When: 2nd September, 11:00 am local time, 3:30 pm IST
Pitch report: The Oval pitch offers both bounce and carry for the quicks and offers good grip and spin on days 4 & 5. The forecast seems to be clear for most of the days, with a little rain anticipated on day 5. Toss winner is likely to bat first
Probable XI India
KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Chetashwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravi Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Probable XI England
Haseeb Hameed, Rory Burns, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ollie Pope, Moeen Ali, Craig Overtan, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Jimmy Anderson.