Locked at 1-1, India and England get ready for the 4th Test at Old Trafford
After putting up a spirited performance in all the departments at Rose Bowl, Southampton, England look forward to continue with their momentum and get a lead in the series as they host India for the 4th test match of the Investec Series at Old Trafford, Manchester.
India are probably trying to find an answer to the tricks of part-time spinner Moeen Ali who picked up 6 wickets in the second innings of the third test match. Moeen should be looking to repeat his performance in 4th test between India and England at Old Trafford, Manchester. Captain Dhoni admitted that his team did not bat with the right approach against Moeen. Indian batsmen generally known as good players of spin, threw away their wickets to Moeen in the crucial stages of the match. Moeen who is not a big turner of the ball was consistent with line and length and forced the Indian batsmen to commit mistakes. “I don’t think we played good cricket over here but at the same time I think we played the fast bowlers well,” Dhoni said. “Moeen I think he bowled well, but still we let him bowl well. It is very important to be positive against the spinner, especially when there is not much on offer. I think he bowled very good lines. If you keep defending, one odd ball will turn because there is considerable amount of wear and tear on the wicket.”
India played 5 specialist bowlers in the first two tests but went with 7 batsmen and 4 frontline bowlers at Rose Bowl. Now in India’s next match against England at Old Trafford, Manchester, Dhoni may decide to go back to five bowlers since with the exception of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, no one like looked good enough to trouble the English batsmen. Ishant Sharma who bowled brilliantly at Lords, was ruled out due to injury at Rose Bowl and made way for debutant Pankaj Singh who went wicketless. Ishant is set to miss the Old Trafford test as well. The long series is taking a toll on the Indian team with Wriddhiman Saha having returned with an injury. Kumar is also reported to have a swelling on his ankle. If he missed out, it will be a tough test for India to restrict England from scoring a huge score. Rohit Sharma is set to be left out if Dhoni opts for five bowlers at Rose Bowl with either Ashwin or Stuart Binny getting a place in the team. “The reason was we never used the fifth bowler, so we thought maybe we’ll be able to use the batsmen who can bowl a bit if needed,” Dhoni said. “We just bowled that fifth bowler for eight overs or ten overs so I thought with Shikhar and Vijay and Rohit being around, we can use that fifth bowler.”
Meanwhile, England would be looking at the positives they took from Southampton. Cook looked to be back in good form as he scored half centuries in both the innings. Debutant Joss Butler played confidently as he scored a fast half century to give impetus to the England innings. However bowling will be a concern for Cook. Lium Plunkett, who was rested out for the third test, will now also miss the fourth test due to an ankle injury. He is expected to recover to play in the fifth and final test which begins on August 15 at The Oval. Steven Finn has been included in the squad to replace him. Finn has not played a Test since July 2013 against Australia at Trent Bridge but has taken 90 wickets in 23 Tests at 29.40. His inclusion will be a good thing for England if the tall pacer manages to get bounce and trouble the Indian batsmen. However he may not get a chance to play if Chris Jordan is given another chance. James Anderson, having been proved not guilty, will be the strike bowler for England. He has been the leading wicket taker for the hosts with 16 wickets in the first three tests followed by Moeen Ali who has 15, along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Whoever wins the match will have a good chance to win the series if they manage to hold out the opponents for a draw in the final test. MS Dhoni said that his team has the resource to bounce back from the defeat, provided they played more positively. Now it is to be seen whether his team puts up a good show to prove their captain right.