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.
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.
(last five matches, most recent first)
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”