India vs England: Fourth Test Preview

Cricket ball sits on pitch

India turned up the heat on the hosts with a third Test victory that blew the series wide open.

In Nottingham, India's top-order finally clicked and put together the performance they had hoped for in the first two Tests.

England vs India | 30 August - 3 September | Rose Bowl, Southampton 

To Win Match
England 21/20
Draw 4/1
India 16/10

England
Much of the talk surrounding the England camp in the build-up has centred around the fitness of Jonny Bairstow. The wicketkeeper fractured his finger in Nottingham and is in doubt for the crucial fourth Test. The mercurial James Vince has been added to the squad as batting cover, while Jos Buttler will take the gloves even if Bairstow plays, given the nature of his injury.

For Buttler, it will be an audition. Should he pass England, may ask Bairstow to play as a specialist batsman for the foreseeable future. Coach Trevor Bayliss and skipper Joe Root are desperate to solve the team's middle-order malaise - and this could just be the key.

Young batsman Ollie Pope has looked the part for spells, but has yet to post a significant score. England's unwavering faith in opening pair Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings has more to do with a lack of quality replacements than strong displays on their part.

The hosts also need to address the issue of which two of their three match-winning all-rounders they enter the crucial match with. Sam Curran was Man of the Match in the first Test, while Chris Woakes won the same plaudit for the second. The third man in this awkward triangle is Ben Stokes - an x-factor player England feel must be in their XI if he is fit.

Moeen Ali may be considered as an alternative to Adil Rashid, who has been required to bowl less overs than expected in the series so far. Moeen pressed his case with a hatful of Championship runs against Yorkshire.

With England's two veteran seamers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, firing on all cylinders, uncapped quick Jamie Porter looks as if he might spend the entire series on the bench.

India
India named a new squad for the final two matches, shortly after the conclusion of the match at Trent Bridge, bringing in two batsmen.

Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari have both been in excellent touch for the India A side, with the latter scoring a ton against South Africa A in a four-day game in early August. Shaw has been earmarked for progression for some time - and a star showing in India's under-19 World Cup-winning campaign has only accelerated the opener's progress.

Opener Murali Vijay has been informed that his form was not satisfactory - and he has been axed, while Kuldeep Yadav departs the squad to link up with the India A squad to face Australia A in two four-day matches.

Skipper Virat Kohli has never named an unchanged Test XI, but there may be a case for him to do so in Southampton. The return to form of Cheteshwar Pujara and a strong display from Ajinkya Rahane means that only the openers went without at least a half-century among the top five batsmen.

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav awaits another opportunity to impress, but it is hard to see India leaving out any one of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.

Ravichandran Ashwin has been struggling with a hip injury, but is expected to take the field, though India do still have Ravindra Jadeja in the squad as cover.

Verdict: India 16/10
Cricket is a confidence game - and India will be buoyant after their triumph in Nottingham, and desperate to take the series into a decider.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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