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India put in one of the best performances it has ever shown in an overseas test as it outplayed England in all departments. The team was down and out after the Lords test but victory at Trent Bridge has thrown open this series once again. England would be very disappointed at its own performance and the vultures have started to circle. There are questions about selection, the career of senior players, and talk about changing the personnel once again.
The scoreline, though, still reads 2-1 in favor of England and that is something that the home team and the tourists both need to remember. Only one team in history has ever come back from 2-0 down in a five-match series and gone on to win 3-2. Can India win this match and give itself a chance to be the second or will England lay down the hammer once again?
It is a little surprising at the amount of criticism this England team has copped after one loss. After all, it was the same set of players which came out on top in a closely fought first match and dominated India in the second one. Surely, one loss against the world’s number one test nation is not something to clear the decks over?
The answer to this reaction lies in the long-term difficulties England has been facing at home and some similar frailties that were exposed in its last loss.
Alastair Cook has been in woeful form so far and has not been able to score any runs. His inability negotiate the new ball for any length of time puts pressure on the batting to follow. Keaton Jennings is having another tough series and questions about his future are being asked as well.
England has opted to stick with two for the remainder of this series but every inning seems particularly crucial for this pair. Joe Root at number three is perhaps batting one position above what his preferred place but that is also not going to change in this match.
England’s top order has been poor and that needs to change in this match. At number four is Olli Pope, who may miss out in this match. Even if he plays, questions about why England is batting him at a position he has never batted before continue to be asked. Jonny Bairstow is likely to play as a specialist batsman and so maybe he could swap places with Pope.
Stokes could also move up one position, moving Pope to 6, his position with Surrey.
Buttler will be full of confidence after his brilliant century at number 7 and then comes England’s long list of all-rounders.
Chris Woakes had a poor match in the last game but he is surely going to be persisted with. Stuart Broad and James Anderson are automatic selections leaving just one more place for debate. Adil Rashid has done little wrong to be dropped but if England plays Moeen Ali in place of Pope, then Sam Curran can slot in the team as well.
That would be the way that we think England goes and it will make their formidable in all aspects. Southampton is expected to be a hard, fast, pitch which the batsman could rather enjoy so having extra padding in both disciplines is going to be very useful for England.
Alastair Cook, KK Jennings, JE Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, BA Stokes, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, AU Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
It has been 37 tests since Virat Kohli took over and he has yet to play the same eleven in consecutive matches. All indications point that this streak is about to end in this match. After all, India had close to the perfect game in the last match so why would they tinker with their side once again.
Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul provided a solid platform for India in both innings of the last test but were unable to convert that into meaningful scores. We are huge believers of confidence carrying on from one skill to the next and Rahul’s excellent catching could help him with his batting as well.
Back him to get a big one in this match.
Pujara got some runs in the last match, as did Rahane, and both of them will be hoping to build on that in Southampton. Pujara has struggled with bouncy wickets in the past so this test could be a bit of a challenge for him.
Rahane, like Kohli, like the pace and bounce. If there is not too much of movement in the air or off the surface then these two players are going to add a lot more runs to their tally.
Speaking of Virat Kohli, his return in this series has been phenomenal especially considering the kind of game he has had to play. Kohli has abandoned his aggressive streak and is content to wait for the ball. He has made mistakes and got away with dropped catches but he has found a way to score runs.
Betting against this man in this kind of form is not something we can recommend.
India’s batting lineup is much more susceptible to low scores than England’s. Pant at 6, Pandya at 7, followed by Ashwin and the bowlers represents a rather longish tail. Pant and Pandya are aggressive batsmen that have yet to prove themselves at the test level.
India has excelled in the bowling department. Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, and now Hardik Pandya have all been brilliant. Traditionally, Southampton has not been a wicket where two spinners are going to be played.
Most of the wickets have been taken by the faster bowlers and that is why we believe that India will stick to the same set of bowlers. Ashwin’s injury concern is the only reason why Ravindra Jadeja may be swapped into the team.
Among the bowlers, we have a feeling that Bumrah and Shami will be the main threat to England’s batting in this match. Both bowlers are generating good pace, get disconcerting bounce, and have a good bouncer.
India will go into this match with nothing but a win on their mind’s and that in itself is the biggest change that Indian fans are witnessing when the team travels abroad.
Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, V Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, RR Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, I Sharma, Mohammed Shami, JJ Bumrah.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The weather forecast for this match is excellent. Sunny weather with only a 10% chance of rain is expected at the moment. Southampton has been one of the better run-scoring venues in England over the last few years and that might give this match a completely different character than the three played before.
We think both sides are going to get plenty of runs and the bowlers will have to work hard for the wickets. No match has gone into the fifth day for any reasonable amount of time up until now but that could change in Southampton.
England was the overwhelming favorite going into the last match but their odds have shortened significantly. With rain not expected to be an issue, the draw seems a remote possibility. Both these teams have shown the propensity to go for results up until now and that is how this match will be played as well.
India has momentum and real belief around its camp at the moment. It also has a more settled side, fewer questions to ponder over, and a fresher bowling attack. We think India can even the series at Southampton.
Back India to win.
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