This Test Match has an epic feel to it. It feels almost like a five-part fantasy movie. England came up on top for the first two games. Then there was a twist and India won the third. Now a mentally and physically injured side comes to battle on in the summer of controversies. This time it is young Ollie Pope. You really do not know who the villains of this series are.
The game of musical chairs for England continues. Cook and Jennings continue to open. Jennings has done better in my ranking than Cook as far as batting goes. Joe Root is trying hard to stabilise the top order but there is the issue of him being at three. There is a debate raging whether Root should bat at three or four. The people on either side of this debate are missing the bigger picture. The problem is that the opening batsmen are not able to see off the new ball. This essentially exposes Root early on. Now we can add an injured Baristow to that list as well. Make no mistake India will exploit these weaknesses. They will target the injuries of Baristow, Stokes and possibly even Roots back to win the game. India was very aggressive in the way they played Stokes. Stokes would have been mentally tired after his trial. India went after him to break him further. A Test match is as much a mental game as a physical at the end of the day. I like the idea of having Cook bat at three. Try a different opening combination at the top. The experiment of picking Buttler based on white ball form worked. Will they be willing to go one step further and open with him?
It goes without saying that Anderson and Broad must fire. Curran will have to do more than his fair share of bowling because Stokes may be playing with an injury. Root may use him for small bursts. Finally, there is the issue of the Spin Twins. Eoin Morgan has used Rashid and Moeen extremely well. Root has not been able to emulate that. Maybe Eoin Morgan should be called in to be the twelfth man so that he will be able to tell Root when to bring the spinners on.
India seems to be tempted to go with two spinners too. Although Kohli states in his press conference that there was no need to make changes. This Test may come down to which side plays spin better and bowls spin better. Dare I say that we may actually get to see four or maybe even five days of play? Both the sides are banking on the pitch turning in the latter half of the match. Will the teams especially England be able to survive for that long though. In my last preview, I mentioned that India needed to win to lift the mood of the country. In this match, England needs to win because a loss would mean that most of the heads of the English team will be on the chopping block. A win for England will result in some players being handed out extended lifelines. Most of the people would want India to win so that we would have an “exciting” last Test. I would prefer England winning this match. I would not bet on it though.