A Picture Preview Of The Old Trafford Test

Published 08/07/2014, 2:22 AM EDT


Overview

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With the Test series leveled at 1-1, one should not expect any lack in intensity from any of the sides. An unsettled Indian team will look forward to making amends for their poor show at the Ageas Bowl while England will look to capitalize on their new found form with their batting heavyweights coming to the party.

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India had 13 double digit scores in the previous test and had a dismal show with the ball. With Bhuvi not looking in the best fitness, India’s batting woes seem more fixable than the bowling since the major dismissals were made by part-timer Moeen Ali. Fielding needs a new dimension altogether and needs to complement the bowling. The slip fielding and in-ring catching needs to improve in order to provide crucial breakthroughs.

The challenge for Alastair Cook’s team will be to replicate their flawless efforts at Ageas Bowl. A second performance of such magnitude would be proof that the first one – which ended a winless run of 10 Tests – was not merely happenstance. England have not won successive Tests or a series since the summer of 2013, and this is their last opportunity to score a victory until after the 2015 World Cup.

Previous Results

(last five matches, most recent first)

England WLDLD

India LWDDL

Expected XI

England played the near-perfect Test in Southampton, but Chris Jordan’s performance – his lithe slip catching apart – had plenty of room for improvement. He did not bat, and when he bowled he posed almost no threat and went wicket less. If the Old Trafford pitch is fast, England could give Steve Finn a comeback, but they will probably stick with their successful XI.

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Sam Robson, 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Joe Root, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan/Steve Finn, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson.

India are likely to bring in Ashwin and Aaron for Rohit Sharma and Pankaj. Shikhar Dhawan could miss out too, but if India decide not to play Gautam Gambhir, they could retain Rohit and push everyone one slot higher.

India (probable) 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan/Gautam Gambhir, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Varun Aaron/Pankaj Singh.

Pitch Report

The track at Old Trafford promises to be the quickest, and the outcast weather conditions are enough for the seamers to exploit. Batting is going to be difficult for the first 2 days and batsmen should look to see out the new ball and capitalize when conditions become more friendly.The forecast for the first day is fair, but it is worse on Friday and progressively so over the weekend. The temperature is expected to be between 18C and 20C, so it is certainly sweater weather, for the Indians at least.

Trivia

  •  India last played a Test at Old Trafford in 1990, when Sachin Tendulkar made a match-saving maiden century; they have drawn five and lost three matches at the venue. England have won six and drawn two of their last eight Tests in Manchester; their last defeat there was against Pakistan in May 2001.
  • Anderson had taken 12 wickets at 35.33 apiece in four Tests at Old Trafford, his home ground. His new-ball partner Stuart Broad has only two wickets in two Tests at the venue, at an average of 108.50.
  • Ian Bell averages 78.57 in six Tests in Manchester. He has 550 runs in ten innings there, with two hundreds. Cook has scored 431 runs at an average of 53.87 at the venue.

A Word From The Captains

“We put a lot of wear and tear into the Indian bowlers in that game [third Test], that’s how you win Test-match series. We put a lot of miles in their legs like they did to us at Trent Bridge, which effected us at Lord’s. At the start of this game it’s nil-all and you’ve got to earn the right to put miles in their legs again.”

Alastair Cook

“The match will tell us how fresh they really are, but at the same time the best we could have managed is to work on fitness and manage their workloads, and we have done that really well. So we will turn up on the field and see if they will be fresh and raring to go.”

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MS Dhoni

Center Stage

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  • Sam Robson has not yet done enough this summer to suggest he has succeeded where Nick Compton, Joe Root and Michael Carberry failed, in making the opening slot vacated by Andrew Strauss their own. With England taking a hiatus from Test cricket at the end of this series until April 2015, Robson potentially has four innings to ensure he isn’t forgotten.
  • Moeen Ali is faring marginally worse than Robson with the bat in this series, but all anyone is talking about is his 15 wickets.
  • Can any combination of Indian bowlers take 20 wickets in a Test? No one was asking that question after Lord’s, but it has almost become rhetorical after Southampton. With Ishant Sharma injured, Bhuvneshwar Kumar tiring, Mohammed Shami averaging 73.20 for five wickets, Pankaj Singh luckless, and Ravindra Jadeja being outbowled by Moeen Ali, the lack of depth on India’s creaking bench has been exposed, as many thought it would be over five Tests.
  • Virat Kohli has had a particularly bad series with the bat with a dismal show in his 6 innings so far.
  • Cheteshwar Pujara has looked solid at the crease but the lack of a decent score under his belt has not made him any more positive in his approach.
  • There is talk of off spinner R Ashwin and fast bowler Varun Aaron bolstering the attack, but Ashwin averages nearly 75 in away Tests and Aaron hasn’t played since his debut in 2011

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Harit Pathak

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