Southampton: Who should be under pressure – Virat Kohli or Joe Root? Well the natural answer would be the Indian captain. However, if body language before the fourth Test of India-England is taken into account, there can be no doubt that it is the England skipper who seems to be under monumental pressure.
England go into the Test against India fearing yet another pace assault. The series had started with discussions about how India would cope with the swing of James Anderson, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. After Trent Bridge where India won the question which being asked is how England would cope with the pace of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya.
While the England pacers have clocked 130-135kmp/h while swinging the ball, the Indian fast bowlers have bowled at an average of 140-145kmp/h. This speed has also enabled them to bounce the England batsmen out. The current status of the series stands at 2-1 in England’s favour. It could have easily been 3-0 for India had their batsmen come to the party. India face the ignominy of being down in the series simply because their batsmen, other than Kohli, failed to deliver in the first two Tests.
There are injury worries for both sides going into the fourth Test of the five-match series. India’s worry is Ravi Ashwin’s back. The offie has definitely looked tentative during the training sessions both Tuesday and Wednesday. He batted, but never bowled or took part in the fielding or physical drills that the team went through. In case he doesn’t play, in all probability it will be Ravindra Jadeja taking his place. But there is a slight possibility is that India may include Umesh Yadav if the Rose Bowl pitch here continues its nature of favouring pace bowlers.
For England the worries are Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes. The former has a fractured middle finger on his left hand, the latter is still recuperating from an injured right knee. England are keen that both play, both have also made themselves available. However, the doubt remains as to whether both can last the entire duration of five days. Then comes the question of all-rounder Moeen Ali. The last time India played here, Ali decimated the Indian batting line-up with his spin taking six wickets. Also the physical condition of Chris Woakes is being closely monitored as he is nursing strained right quadriceps.
All in all with the Rose Bowl having a tinge of green on the surface it looks to be a fascinating game of Test cricket. It is a make or break match for both sides. A win here would give England the series. On the other hand if India triumph they have the chance to emulate Sir Donald Bradman’s team of coming from 0-2 down to win a Test series 3-2 against England.
That happened during the 1936-37. Eighty two years later history beckons India.
“1936-37, I wasn’t even born then. Why talk about history. We live for the present. Time to take fresh guard again. This is 2018”
Wickets for pacers after 3 Tests
James Anderson (17) Ishant Sharma (11)
Stuart Broad (10) Hardik Pandya (9)
Chris Woakes (8) Mohammed Shami (8)
Ben Stokes (8) Jasprit Bumrah (7)
Sam Curran (6) Umesh Yadav (3)