India gets ready for do or die match against England at The Oval

Trailing 1-2, India has their last chance to prove themselves on the English soil as they prepare themselves for the final test of the Investec Series starting on Friday at The Oval. The series had started on a positive note for the visitors. They drew at Trent Bridge and went on to win the Lords Test, which was India’s first win in English soil after 28 years. But since then their performance has been lacklustre. After losing at Rose Bowl, Southampton they faced an embarrassing innings defeat at Manchester.

Indian players must be disappointed by the fact that they got bowled out on the third day itself. As expected heavy rainfall did occur on the fourth day which could have surely helped India to a draw if they managed to stay on the wicket for a longer period of time. The biggest concern for Dhoni leading up to the final test at The Oval is the performance of his batsmen. Except the captain himself, and Ashwin in the second innings, no one could stay in for a long innings. Highly reputed batsman Virat Kohli needs to deliver in the fifth test, not just for the team but for his own good. He has been totally out of form and is showing no signs of getting it back. Pujara has showed glimpses of his class but needs to bat longer if India has any chance of posting a big score. Part time spinner Moeen Ali has still been a mystery for the batsmen.

In the bowling department, the performance has been someway better. Aaron bowled with raw pace and troubled the English batsmen. Kumar as always is looking good with the new ball and swinging it both ways. But what has really hurt India is the inexperience of their bowling attack.
If Ishant Sharma declared match-fit before the fifth Test, India would get a bowler they desperately need in the English conditions. Ishant must be desperate to play. After his match winning bowling at Lords, India can expect another heroic effort from him. Also in his presence, Kumar and Aaron is expected to be more lethal and bring success to India.

England on the other hand are doing almost everything right. Although opener Robson is not in form, Cook and the middle order have performed when required in the last two tests. Root and Moeen Ali are in good form and have brought stability to the middle order. But what really has changed their batting in the last two matches is the inclusion of Joss Butler. This young wicketkeeper-batsman has stood up to the occasion with his quick fire fifties in both the matches he has played. It is already in question why he was not included in the Test squad earlier. England will be hoping he delivers another good performance at The Oval.

England will be under lesser pressure as they took an unassailable lead at Manchester to go 2-1 up in the series. India desperately wants their batsmen to show some Test match temperament if they are expected to perform well at The Oval. Although the supporters will get some solace if they manage to draw the fifth test, this is the last chance for Dhoni and co. to level the series and regain their pride.

Alastair Cook (c), Sam RobsonGary Ballance,  Joe RootIan BellMoeen Ali,  Chris JordanJos Buttler (wk),  Stuart BroadChris WoakesJames Anderson.

India: Gautam GambhirMurli VijayCheteshwar PujaraVirat KohliAjinkya RahaneMS Dhoni (c/wk), Stuart BinnyRavichandran AshwinBhuvneshwar KumarVarun Aaron, Ishant Sharma