Uzair Rizvi, BeyondHeadlines
England stormed to a 3-0 lead over India, raising many question concerning the fallout of the tourists.
And the two teams battle for the last time in white kits this season in the fourth test at The Oval on Thursday.
The hosts have dominated the series until now until now, winning the three games convincingly. They humiliated the visitors and delivered them a fatal blow.
India lost the first test at Lord’s by 196 runs followed by a heavy defeat of 319 runs at Nottingham. They continued to suffer even more at Birmingham, losing it by an innings and 242 runs.
Therefore, going into this final test India have pride and no.2 ranking at stake. The much-vaunted batting line-up with the likes of Sehwag,Gambhir,Laxman and Tendulkar have all failed to even post a score beyond 300 and the batsmen will have to shun off their disappointing run and score heavily.
The Oval pitch is arguably the best ground in England suited to batting, so Indians will be relying heavily on their batsmen to make amends.
A lot is expected from Gambhir and Sehwag,they have failed miserably and will be keen to take on the English bowlers.Sehwag who is riding on a king-pair will look to stay for a long time for a blitzing knock.
Only Rahul Dravid has been the most successful batsman on this tour with back-to-back centuries and a couple of good scores. He looks in great touch and will hope to cash in more.
Laxman has batted well but failed to make a significant impression until now.
Sachin Tendulkar has been disappointing, only scored a half-century in last six innings. He’s probably playing his last test on English soil, so it would be a great opportunity for him to sign it off with his 100th International Century.
Suresh Raina again failed to prove his worth and it is possible that he might be dropped for this final game and Virat Kohli seems to be a suitable substitute.
Dhoni returned to the form with the bat is a positive sign for the team, scoring consecutive half-centuries.
The bowling have never been the strength for India and they have failed to do anything with the ball unlike the English bowlers.
Praveen Kumar took a nasty blow on the thumb at Edgbaston so his fitness is unsure, if he sits out then left-arm pacer R.P.Singh gets the nod.
Sreesanth and Sharma both failed to support Praveen.Amit Mishra did go for runs but managed to pick wickets so he is likely to be retained.
On the other hand, England would go for a kill, they are a team running high on confidence and like a machine each player knows exactly what is required in their individual roles.
Injuries to Trott and Tremlett affected them least and they continued to prowl on the Indians. This England team is never satisfied and they will see this final test as a chance to lay down another marker with a show of hunger and desire.
Skipper Strauss will avoid this ‘Dead Rubber Syndrome’ and will be desperate to crush them mentally before the ODI series.
Everything has been perfect about their game. Their batting, bowling, fielding it’s all exquisite. Strauss is back in form as well as their run machine Alistair Cook, scored a sublime double century at Edgbaston will look to torment the Indians again.
With the support of Bell,Pietersen,Morgan the middle order is rock solid.Bopara is under pressure to perform but is overlooked when the team is on a high.
Prior and Bresnan provides more nourishment to the batting with likes of Broad and Swann.Huh! They all are all-rounder’s and can bat pretty well.
Their bowling have simply outclass with likes of Broad and Anderson. Well Anderson is a doubt for this final test and England have already called up Steven Finn and Graham Onions as a back up, but his fate will be decided on the final day.
Swann have played his part and chipped in with 1-2 wickets and that is quite understandable when your pacers are on fire.
The conditions at Oval are pretty batting friendly with some chances of rain on the first day but the forecast is clear for the remaining days.
England have the opportunity to inflict their first clean sweep against India.
India, though have not been whitewashed in a test series in nearly 20 years-1992 in Australia, they will be keen to avoid this blow.
Considering the current form of the English Team, it seems unlikely that the visitors can stage an upset but for India pride is at stake and they would want to prove a point.
India- MS Dhoni(wk/cpt), G.Gambhir, V.Sehwag, R.Dravid, S.Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, V.Kohli,P.Kumar, A.Mishra, R.P.Singh, I.Sharma
England- A.Strauss(cpt), A.Cook, I.Bell, K.Pietersen, E.Morgan, R.Bopara, M.Prior, T.Bresnan, G.Swann, S.Broad, S.Finn