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Team India take on England in the fifth and final Test match of their Test series at The Oval. Trailing by a 1-2 margin , the tourists have the last chance to get their act together and draw level in this series. Devarchit Varma has more.
India will play the final Test at The Oval starting August 15 on this trip. While they started off on a positive note in this Test series with a draw at Trent Bridge and a rare overseas Test win at Lord’s, India have only luxated and have allowed the hosts to regain their mojo, which seemed to have been destroyed by Australia last Ashes Down Under.
England are slowly getting back on their feet, with the senior players doing what they had been — to perform and win matches for their side. Alastair Cook has looked somewhat convincing after the wretched run, Ian Bell is making most of Indian bowlers’ slackness, and Stuart Broad and James Anderson have found the lost rhythm and control.
On the other hand, the poor form of India’s biggest hopes — Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara — poor form has hurt the side. So much so that the captain MS Dhoni was forced to acknowledge after the defeat in the fourth Test that the lack of runs are hurting his side. One must remember that the Indian captain is not known for criticising his players in public and in media, but the sheer frustration of his young batsmen not coming to the fore and do what they are supposed to do, came out.
The bowling department has not done wonders either. On tracks where England bowlers were able to take out all 20 wickets, India have at times struggled to even get past 10. The fifth Test is the last chance for India to get their house in order. India will have to get these basics right, and look for solutions within and get their act together because an on-song England is one of the toughest sides to beat while playing at home.
India have indicated that they will persist with the strategy of playing five bowlers. This means that batsmen like Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane, who are among the run-getters in this series will have to place more value to their wickets as there is no guarantee of Kohli and Pujara bouncing back to form. The return of Ishant Sharma will certainly provide India more confidence in the bowling department, but what the bowlers need is a strategy to take 20 wickets, and if there is no plan in place, then things will remain as they are.
As of now, England are well on course for winning this Test series. They are ahead by 2-1 and even a draw will help them secure a series win, their first since the Ashes win last year. But for India, a defeat will mean more ignominy. The tour had provided them a chance to end the abysmal overseas record which has been associated with them since their last sojourn in 2011. They had come close to eradicate it with win at Lord’s, but the defeats that followed undid all the hard work. India have not won an overseas Test series since 2011 (in West Indies). But, they have a realistic chance to make it all even, return home with dignity and avoid their fifth consecutive overseas Test series loss.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)
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