India are still dealing with the absence of Ishant Sharma from the playing XI © Getty Images
With the series locked at 1-1 after England’s scintillating 266-run win over India at Southampton, the fourth Test at Old Trafford will see some intense action between the two sides in what is expected to be a cracker of a Test. While India are still dealing with the absence of Ishant Sharma from the playing XI, the hosts look to carry their momentum forward and seal the victory in this very Test. Amit Banerjee takes a look at some of the key battles that will be crucial to the outcome of the match…
Virat Kohli vs Moeen Ali: While Virat Kohli is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in the current squad and boasts of a fantastic overseas record, he is yet to deliver in the current series in which he has scored a meagre 101 runs from six innings at an average of 16.83. Moeen Ali on the other hand has been phenomenal with the ball so far, picking 15 scalps at a strike rate of 43.8. History also stands against Kohli, who has fallen prey to the off-spin on numerous occasions in the recent past. Things would definitely get interesting should Kohli regain his form at Manchester.
Murali Vijay vs James Anderson: Murali Vijay has had a great series so far with the bat, scoring a century and two half-centuries so far to occupy the second position on the highest run-getters list in the series so far. James Anderson has had similar success with the ball, leading the wicket-takers list with 16 scalps so far. Vijay however has failed to build a solid opening partnership with Dhawan so far, the credit of which can be given to Anderson and co. The fourth Test will see the two engage in a race to give their teams the ideal start.
MS Dhoni vs Alastair Cook: The battle of the leaders. Both have had mixed results with both the bat as well as captaincy. While MS Dhoni’s tactics at Lords received praise from all corners, Cook’s attitude and spirit displayed in the fourth Test, where he scored 95 and 70 in the two innings, silenced the hordes of critics that he had gathered over his lean patch in terms of runs and captaincy. The battle of leadership between the two will make for a nice duel at Old Trafford.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Gary Ballance: The most consistent players from either side so far. Bhuvneshwar managed to dazzle everyone by scoring three consecutive half-centuries with the bat and picking 15 wickets to emerge as the pick among the Indian bowlers. Ballance on the other hand has been terrific to say the least in recent times. Having scored 603 runs in the last nine innings at an impressive average of 67, one can safely expect a pile of runs from the Zimbabwe-born batsman in the remaining Tests. It will be interesting to see the two in-form players clash at Manchester.
Ravindra Jadeja vs James Anderson: This particular rivalry will definitely continue over the remainder of India’s tour. The two had a bitter altercation on the second day of the first Test at Nottingham which eventually led to a full-blown war between the two camps. The matter has reached the International Cricket Council (ICC), involving numerous hearings of both parties involved. In such circumstances, the heat between the two is expected to show prominently in the fourth Test.
Ian Bell vs Mohammed Shami: Ian Bell top-scored in England’s first innings mammoth of a total, the impact of which was felt for the rest of the match. While Shami has had a disappointing series so far, he cannot be written off so easily.
Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014
(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, traveling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)