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Preview: England vs India, 4th Test

Team India look to ‘change’ for good

What

Fourth Test of the five-match series between India and England

When

August 7 to 11, 2014

Where

Old Trafford, Manchester

The Teams

India


How things change. More than a fortnight ago the talk was about an epic victory at Lord’s and India going to Southampton with their noses in front. A week and five days of Test cricket later it is the home side that will walk out at Old Trafford with an upper hand. England had won thirteen sessions out of the fifteen at The Rose Bowl; India were found wanting at every department of the game. Dropped catches, batting and bowling failures plagued India in the third Test and come Thursday, India would look to make amends in every department. First up; the changes – The buzz is about Gautam Gambhir who could make his way into the playing eleven after Shikhar Dhawan’s poor show with the bat in six innings. If at all Gambhir does play at Old Trafford, it would be his first Test match since 2012. It could be a refreshing change to the Indian batting line-up that wouldn’t mind the experience of Gambhir at the top. With the pitch again touted to play a vital role in team selection, R Ashwin could be drafted into the side to add more variety with the ball. Whether he would replace Rohit Sharma or Ravindra Jadeja will be known only after the flip of the coin. With Ishant Sharma being ruled out of the fourth Test, the onus will still be on India’s leading wicket-taker this series – Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Kumar did have a swollen ankle but if the word from the venue is to be believed, the speedster has looked comfortable in his stride. Mohammed Shami is expected to share the new ball with Kumar and it is a toss between Pankaj Singh and Varun Aaron to don the role of the third seamer. Whether India will make bold changes in their line-up in anticipation of a result in their favour will be worth a watch.

England

The smiles are back in the England camp. Their senior-most players who were going through a bad run of form thus far have suddenly found their mojo. Alastair Cook is amongst the runs and that was enough to lift the entire side to put up a match-winning show. Ian Bell has begun to find the sweet spot of his willow and the young guns are firing away to glory. It just took one Test for both sides for things to change; fortunately for England things changed for the better. Credit to England to come back strong after having their backs against the wall and they would be having a spring in their stride on Thursday. England do not have much of concerns before the fourth Test; a complete paradox to how they walked out on the field before taking guard at Southampton. Just an injury concern for England as Liam Plunkett is ruled out due to an ankle injury. Steven Finn has been roped in as replacement. England have a range of fast bowling options and have the liberty to pick and choose from them for the third and fourth seamer’s spot. The spin department looks secure in Moeen Ali’s hands especially after he troubled the batsmen considered the best players of spin in the third Test. The very fact that the Indian batsmen were practicing the sweep shot in the nets would make Ali smile and have his collars up when he walks out to ball at Old Trafford.

Key Players

India

At a time when the big names like Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli have found the going tough, Ajinkya Rahane has stood tall with his intentions to bat long and appetite for big runs in the series. Rahane has an average of 54 this series with a century to his name. He has looked in good touch and is now looking to make that place in the middle-order his own. With Kohli, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja looking patchy with the bat, Rahane has looked the binding force in the middle-order. He has got starts in the series and converted one into a big score at Lord’s but India need a lot more from the rest of the batting order and Rahane himself if they were to post a huge total on the board.

England

India are walking into ‘James Anderson territory’ quite literally as they step foot on the speedster’s home ground for the fourth Test. Spin is expected to play a part at Old Trafford but at the same time the seamers are expected to make a mark at the venue. With the talk of ‘live grass’ on the pitch, Anderson would be licking his lips to instill maximum damage on India. Anderson has 16 wickets in three games and India have found the going tough against England’s ace speedster thus far. With Indian bowlers tiring and finding it difficult to sustain themselves in the series, Anderson has been an opposite of sorts spitting fire and looking to take a wicket every time he has walked out to bowl. Without a doubt he is India’s biggest threat and Cook would yet again look towards his ace speedster for early breakthroughs in the innings.

Stat Overview

1. Average first innings score at Old Trafford, Manchester:

Overall - 330

Since 2000-373

2. Average second innings score at Old Trafford, Manchester:

Overall- 270

Since-302

3. Result summary at Old Trafford, Manchester:

Matches

Won by side batting 1st

Won by side batting 2nd

Drawn

Overall

27

13

35

Since 2000

4

3

3


4. Head-to-head:

Matches

Played

Ind won

Eng won

Drawn

Overall

110

21

41

48

In England

55

6

28

21

At Old Trafford

8

0

3

5


5. Last meeting between both sides at Old Trafford, Manchester

Brief scores:

9-14 August 1990

England 519 & 320-4d; India 432 and 343-6. Match drawn

6. Form guide (most recent listed first):

India: Lost, Won, Drawn, Drawn, Lost

England: Won, Lost, Drawn, Lost, Drawn

7. Pace vs Spin at Old Trafford

In last 5 Tests:

The Squads

India: M.S. Dhoni (C & wk), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Naman Ojha, Pankaj Singh

England (4th Test): Alastair Cook (C), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Steven Finn, Jos Buttler (WK), Sam Robson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes

News

Mithali Raj backs young team to deliver goods

Indian women’s cricket captain hopes her young team will do well against England

Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj exuded confidence of a good showing as she leads a young team on a tough tour of England. The Indian skipper said that it was a good opportunity for the youngsters to test their mettle in the longer format of the game.

Out of the 15-member team, only three – Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami and vice-captain Karuna Jain - have the experience of playing a Test match. But Mithali is not worried with her side’s inexperience and believes that the young side has the ability to upset the hosts.

Excerpts from the press conference:

On playing a Test match after a gap of eight years

I’m delighted that we are playing the longer format. We played a two-match Test series in 2006. Personally, I play more of one-dayers so I enjoy ODIs but the feeling of earning a Test cap and playing in whites is unmatched. I am sure that the youngsters in the side will cherish every moment and would want to make it memorable by doing well.

On the importance of multi-day format


If you want quality players to come up then the longer format is a must. We have come to know that there is a proposal for a two-day format in the domestic circuit for women’s cricket. It is a welcome move. If you are a good Test cricketer then you can switch to other formats easily.

On leading a young side to England

I know that Jhulan, Karuna and I are the only players who were part of the 2006 Test series in England but if you look at the squad then you will realize that we have players who have played ODIs in England. We were very close last time in 2012. We were leading 2-0 and went on to lose the ODI series. Beating England in their own backyard is not that easy and we want to achieve that.

On Jhulan Goswami

Her experience will come in handy for everyone in the team. I remember she took a five-for in the memorable win at Taunton in 2006. She is still quick.

On the preparations

We have had a seven-day camp at the NCA. We are pretty happy with the preparations. We have also played a two-day match against the KSCA Under-19 boys team.

Fixtures:

August 7-8: Warm-up match, Loughborough

August 13-16: 1st Test, Wormsley

August 19: 50-over warm-up match, Harrogate

August 21: 1st ODI, Scarborough

August 23: 2nd ODI, Scarborough

August 25: 3rd ODI, Lord's

India Women squad: Mithali Raj (capt), Karuna Jain, Smriti Mandhana, Thirush Kamini, Poonam Raut, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami, Nagarajan Niranjana, Shubhlakshmi Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Swagatika Rath, Vellaswamy Vanitha, Sushma Verma; Sudha Shah (coach).