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By Abhijit Banare
Aug 6, 2014
Ever since the Trent Bridge Test, India and England are moving in to their next match with a little dose of controversy to pump up the excitement. With the matter almost laid to rest, an Indian side with injury concerns takes on England in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Manchester. The momentum is clearly with the hosts having inflicted a thumping defeat over the MS Dhoni-led side. While the defeat at Southampton was an abject surrender, India haven’t performed as badly this series as they did in the third Test.
But their concerns stems from injury concerns to those who made the difference early in the series. While Ishant Sharma has been ruled out, there are still concerns over Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s fitness. A lot is happening in the Indian camp and a few changes can certainly be expected. The first of the few could be right at the top with an out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan making way for the experienced Gautam Gambhir.
With Ishant out, Pankaj Singh could get another shot at overturning the horrible debut a week ago. The focus will be on getting Bhuvneshwar fit. Mohammed Shami though is having a tough time in England and needs to take the onus with the new ball. Another key change expected is that of Ravichandran Ashwin. He has been on the sidelines for a fairly long time. While his selection seems certain, it’s interesting to see who sits out – Rohit Sharma or Ravindra Jadeja.
MS Dhoni did make it clear about his comfort with a four-bowler strategy. So the shuffling of cards will also depend on getting that equation right. Moving to the batting, this is one area where the two match-winners are still to make a noticeable difference. Virat Kohli has looked vulnerable fishing outside off and Cheteshwar Pujara has looked sublime in patches. These two need to add more solidity to the batting.
Meanwhile, the England side looks settled with Liam Plunkett being the only injury concern and Steve Finn looks set to play the fourth Test in his place. It was clinical performance from them in the third Test winning every session in the five days. But they will have to guard against complacency as India are no strangers to the weak links in the revamped side. The most positive sign of the win was Alastair Cook’s form with the bat and captaincy. Both seemed to go hand-in-hand as the skipper looked more relaxed. England will be a confident side with James Anderson firing and the batting looking solid with debutant Jos Buttler among the runs as well.
This is the first time since 1990 India are playing a Test at Manchester. No one needs to remind the exploits of a wonder kid at this venue last time around. Overall India have played eight times and have failed to register a single win and lost three matches with one of them being an innings defeat. India haven’t been lucky with the toss as well losing six of the eight. There are certainly some records to be scripted for Dhoni and co. See India’s record at Manchester here
The pitch here could have good pace and bounce. However, India will have to be guarded against making another mistake of underestimating Moeen Ali who ran through their batting. A crucial stage in the series where a win will completely tilt the momentum on one side with enough confidence to take to the final Test and putting too much pressure on the losing team.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c &wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Varun Aaron, Pankaj Singh, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishwar Pandey, Stuart Binny, Mohammed Shami. To read analysis of Indian squad click here
England: Alastair Cook (c), Sam Robson, Gary Balance, Joe Root, Ian Bell, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Steve Finn, Ben Stokes.
Time: 10:00 GMT I 15:30 IST
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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