India eye 4-1 series win, England WTC points

By BD Narayankar
Dharamsala, (UNI) With Jasprit Bumrah’s return and Ravichandran Ashwin’s wait to play his 100th Test match, India will be eyeing a 4-1 series win against England in the fifth and final Test match beginning tomorrow.

Whereas, the English Captain Ben Stokes let India revel in this glory as he acknowledged that 3-2 sounds better at the end of the series. Hence, an undiluted contest yet again awaits fans across the globe.

Rohit Sharma’s captaincy has been a revelation in this series as he never let his young guns feel the loss of King Kohli and KL Rahul, and they grabbed the opportunity by coming with flying colours, Rajat Patidar being an exception.

Moreover, Ashwin’s 100th Test appearance should lift the spirits of his teammates as they must be determined to give a gift to the legendary off-spinner, doing everything on the field to make this an unforgettable match for him.

Besides Ashwin, Yashasvi Jaiswal has grabbed all the eyeballs for his batting in the series. His 655 total runs in four Tests have been the nemesis for England’s Bazball and still, the tourists are finding ways to stop his ‘Jazball’ approach.

India will be happy to have Bumrah back in the team to lead the attack alongside Mohammad Siraj, and in all likelihood, Rohit might field three seamers in Dharamsala. But it will be a big call between pacer Akash Deep and Kuldeep Yadav as an extra spinner.

Debutant Deep proved his mettle with a three-fer on Day 1 of the Ranchi Test, but Kuldeep’s wrist spin was key to puncture England’s resistance when the surface was at its flattest in the back end of the contest.

On the flipside, England would like to end their tour by gaining crucial World Test Championship points by defeating India as their Bazball has not worked wonders under Indian conditions, except winning the first Test in Hyderabad.

Just like Ashwin, glory of the 100th Test appearance awaits Jonny Bairstow as this could be a source of inspiration for England. His return after his horrific leg injury in September 2022 has not bore him fruits as an overall average of 21.25 in eight innings in this series is biting his reputation.

Nevertheless, Bairstow comes out with flying colours when the doubters are staked up against him, and that has been the truth and nobody dares to bet against it.

Stokes has pinned hope on spinners Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley amidst speculations of him including three pacers on a seam-friendly surface in Dharamsala. Bashir is nursing a cut on his spinning finger and was quarantined in his hotel rather than risk mingling with the rest of the team during their final practice session.

Ollie Robinson makes way for the return of Mark Wood after enduring a bleak time with the ball in the Ranchi Test, apparently after tweaking his back during his spirited half-century.

James Anderson is two wickets away from 700 Tes wickets, and the 41-year-old will look to make it count.


India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Ravindra Jadeja, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Akash Deep, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah.

England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (capt), Ben Foakes (wk), Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, Shoaib Bashir, James Anderson.

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