Can England come out of mental scars?
image credits bcci
Can England come out of mental scars? After all the media-induced controversy in the Day night, 3rd test at Ahmedabad that ended swiftly in five sessions, India and England will lock horns again on what is expected to be a batting pitch in the 4th test.
The red ball should make batting much easier than the pink ball which due to more lacquer tended to skid through more causing huge discomfiture amongst batters of both teams on a seemingly deadly pitch.
India needs only a draw to qualify for the World test championships final. A win will give them a convincing 3-1 result after losing the 1st test. The team looks in great shape and not many changes are expected except for the forced one involving Jasprit Bumrah who has withdrawn from the game due to personal reasons.
One expects Mohammed Siraj to partner Ishant Sharma in this game as Umesh Yadav has only just recovered from an injury. Washington Sundar with his batting credentials is likely to keep his spot in the XI and play as the 3rd spinner ahead of Kuldeep. The rest of the XI should be unchanged.
The expected XI should be Rohit, Gill, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Pant, Sundar, Ashwin, Axar, Siraj, Ishant.
For India Rohit, Ashwin and Axar had been the 3 big heroes in this series. Apart from Root’s double hundred, Rohit Sharma has looked the best batsman from either side and his supreme batting on back-to-back spinning tracks was awesome.
Ashwin has certainly got back his batting mojo and has totally eclipsed Ben Stokes in this series as an all-rounder. Now with 400 test wicket landmark achieved, Ashwin will prove to be a big thorn for England in the 4th test as he has done all through this series.
Axar Patel has been a revelation. He has more than made up for Jadeja’s absence as the left-arm spinner. With accurate line lengths, fine arm balls, quicker deliveries, and getting a bit of bounce, Axar has proved to be a big challenge for England batters albeit on helpful decks.
The Englishman has totally failed to play the sweep against him and could not take any liberties against his accuracy. If the 4th test pitch is found to be batting friendly, it can challenge Axar a bit more, but the dominance that he has created in the minds of the opposition will not fade away so easily.
England has a lot to look into. The batting has looked in total disarray against both the offie and the left arm spin. Apart from Root double in first test , none of the batters have made any impact. Their overall reluctance to step out and over obsession with sweep shot has proved damaging for their chances . Playing spin from the crease specially if the ball skids , like in the 3rd test is bound to hurt the team and that’s exactly what has happened . The batters are going through mental scars against Ashwin and Axar and the rotation policy has not helped their cause either.
Multiple wierd selections after winning first test as given rise to questions whether England are taking this series seriously . Buttler, one of their better batsman in these conditions goes home after first test , Moeen goes home after 2nd test. Anderson saved for pink ball test and does not play the 2nd which England lost . Bairstow resurfaces in 3rd test and collects a pair . Chris Woakes sent home as a part of rotation policy and he dont play a single test and the saga goes on. England’s bizarre rotation policy has bordered on the ridiculous and has ruined their chances big time in this test series after winning the first test.
Another big issue is Ben Stokes. Not only he looked short of ideas as a batter , he has hardly bowled much in this series being the 3rd seamer in two of the tests . Hence he is playing more as a batsman and has been a disappointment .
In this test , it remains to be see if England brings back Burns to replace Bairstow , who collected a pair in 3rd test .In bowling one of Archer or Stone may partner Anderson and off spinner Dom Bess may replace off colour Stuart Broad . Stone played in 2nd test and looked impressive while Archer has been below par both with his speed and penetration .
The possible XI for England could be : Crawley , Sibley , Burns / Bairstow , Root , Stokes , Pope , Foakes , Bess , Leach , Archer/ Stone , Anderson .
While the weather is expected to be like 3rd test , it remains to be seen whether England has the fight in them to square the series and spoil India’s party .