After a brilliant performance in the third Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, India will be upbeat to put up a strong performance in the fourth and penultimate Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton – to still harbour hopes of winning the Test series.
Just like the previous encounter, it will be a must-win clash for India. If they can perform like the way they did in Nottingham, India have a great chance of scripting history and winning the series by a 3-2 margin.
For the first time in the series, the visitors batted well which set up the foundation for a sensational victory in the third Test. Virat Kohli has been in the form of his life.
Despite surviving a few close shaves, Kohli has gone onto score more than 400 runs in the series. He is leading the chart for the leading run scorer in the series. He has already smashed a couple of centuries and a couple of half-centuries.
The batters of India were quite brilliant in the 3rd Test at Trent Bridge:
Ajinkya Rahane came back to form in the previous Test and looked in great touch during his knock of 81 in the first innings. He played some brilliant shots which were missing in the fast few matches. Hardik Pandya, who was criticised by all and sundry ahead of the third Test silenced all his critics with a sensational all-around performance.
He bagged his maiden five-wicket haul in international cricket and then went on to score a quickfire half-century in the second innings to take India’s lead to 521.
Pandya is an asset to any team and will undoubtedly feature in the fourth Test at the Rose Bowl. Cheteshwar Pujara also spent some quality time in the middle during his knock of 72 in the second innings. He batted for more than 200 deliveries.
The bowling department has done the job for India:
In the bowling department, all bowlers have been quite impressive in the series so far. Jasprit Bumrah was the pick of the bowlers in the second innings of the third Test and managed to bag his second five-wicket haul in his Test career. He has matured quite a lot and just four Tests into his career, Bumrah has already established himself as the spearhead of the pace attack even in the most extended format.
Ishant Sharma has been more of a one-dimensional bowler. However given so many left-handed batters in the English batting line-up, Ishant has been quite successful in the series so far. He has troubled the opening duo of England on a consistent basis.
In all likelihood, Ravichandran Ashwin will sit out for the fourth Test as he is still recuperating from an injury. If that’s the case, Ravindra Jadeja will come in his place.
For England, nothing is settled at all. The batting department looks fragile. Time and again they have folded out quite cheaply. They have played poor cricket in the past few years in home conditions.
In all the matches, there batting has been asked several questions by the Indian bowlers. Hence, it will be a tough ask for them to continue their lead in the five-match series.
The bowling has been productive with James Anderson and Stuart Broad leading the pace attack. Chris Woakes supported him very well and bagged three wickets in the first innings of the third Test. Adil Rashid hasn’t been at his best and hasn’t bagged the number of wickets which the team would have expected from him.
Test series, England Vs India: Predicted XI-
England: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (c), James Vince, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes. Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, and James Anderson
India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujaara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Jasprit Bumrah
India has a high chance of winning the fourth Test especially after a resounding victory in Southampton. I will back India to win the penultimate Test and make the scoreline 2-2.