India seek breezy end to English summer
London, September 6
Battered after yet another series defeat, the Indian cricket team will be aiming to pick up the pieces and spoil Alastair Cook’s farewell party in the fifth and final Test against England starting Friday.
With England taking an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-Test series, the final match at The Oval is only of academic importance but skipper Virat Kohli will want to finish on a high. A scoreline of 2-3 will definitely look much better than 1-4.
Chief coach Ravi Shastri has tried to keep the morale of the team high by calling it the “best travelling side in the last 15 years”, something that is not corroborated by facts.
Having lost back-to-back overseas series in South Africa and England, the myth of being good travellers has been busted and the team has not been able to convince the fans that they are good enough to win a series outside the Subcontinent. The Kohli-led side, though, has retained though has retained its No. 1 Test rankings despite series losses in both the overseas tours in 2018 thus far.
In this backdrop, Kohli’s India will be playing a Test match where team combination will again come in focus. While they would want to play the best possible XI, there is also a case for experimentation with the line-up.
Ravindra Jadeja looks set to play his first Test on the tour with Ravichandran Ashwin not bowling in the nets on Wednesday and moving gingerly as well. Jasprit Bumrah could also be rested keeping in view the Asia Cup beginning next week in the UAE. The pacer, along with Shardul Thakur, is part of India’s limited-overs’ squad and as such Umesh Yadav could make a comeback into the side.
Bairstow to keep wicket
Jonny Bairstow will keep wicket for England after recovering from a broken middle finger.
All-rounder Moeen Ali will continue to bat at No. 3 where he was promoted ahead of Root in the fourth Test. Cook will bring down the curtain on a 12-year international career by playing his 161st Test and 159th in a row.
On Wednesday, the pitch had a green tinge, like all other wickets in this series. However, it was more an uneven sprinkling than an even covering.