The penultimate game of the 5-match Test series between India and England is set to take place at the Kia Oval in London on Thursday. After a slow start to the series, England made a phenomenal comeback with an emphatic performance in Leeds to level the series. As they will be eyeing for another win, the hosts encounter a wounded Team India looking to make amends for their horror show in the previous game.
The challenge for England is to improve be more consistent. Like India, they have proved themselves adept at coming back when their backs were against the wall but the more sustainable method is to ensure the setbacks don’t happen in the first place. It’s not clear whether the Headingley performance was the start of something good or it was an aberration, the next couple of games will be giving a better picture.
What sort of Indian team England will encounter at the Oval has been wondered by everyone. Virat Kohli has said his side will play with more intensity than they managed at Headingley and England has already been on the end of a fired-up India at Lord’s when they simply couldn’t live with them on the final day. England may show their aggression in a less overt way than Kohli and his team but they can create pressure of their own too.
England will be forced to make at least one change with Jos Buttler absent to be at the birth of his second child. Either Ollie Pope or Dan Lawrence will be coming back to the XI with Jonny Bairstow keeping the gloves. There are also likely to be changed in the bowling attack with Woakes a good bet to take Sam Curran’s place at number eight. Wood can be expected to replace Craig Overton despite the Somerset man impressing at Headingley.
Probable XI: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ollie Pope/Dan Lawrence, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, James Anderson
Bowling coach Bharat Arun has confirmed that Ravindra Jadeja is fit. India will be tempted to replace the off-color (at Headingley) Ishant Sharma and go with Ravichandran Ashwin for the first time this series. Apart from that, Shardul Thakur, who played in the opening Test, could return to the side. He would certainly strengthen a lower order which was blown away twice at Headingley.
Probable XI: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin/Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj
Fantasy Suggestion #1:
Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (c), Virat Kohli, Dawid Malan, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), and Mohd Shami
Fantasy Suggestion #2:
Rishabh Pant, Joe Root, Virat Kohli (c), Rory Burns, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Ollie Robinson (vc), Jasprit Bumrah and Mohd Siraj