England vs India: Fifth Test Preview

Cricket ball sits on pitch

England held on to win the fourth Test against India at the Rose Bowl, denying a great series the epic conclusion it deserved.

The fifth Test will likely go down in memory for little else other than being Alastair Cook's last. 

England vs India | 7 September - 11 September | The Oval, London | 12:00     

To Win Match
England 8/10
Draw 35/1
India 2/1  

England 
With Cook set to retire, and opening partner Keaton Jennings skating on thin ice when it comes to his form, it came as a surprise that England have not called up another opener. 

England could very well head into their next Test assignment without a capped opener in the squad, unless Jennings has a remarkable outing at The Oval.

The debate surrounding who will take the gloves for England long-term rages on, but in the short-term it looks like Jos Buttler will be hanging on to them while Jonny Bairstow's finger heals.

Ollie Pope returns to the group, but will do so only on Thursday morning, after being asked to play the first two days of Surrey's County Championship clash with Essex at Chelmsford. Pope comes in at the expense of James Vince, who was an unused squad member for the fourth Test. 

England might look to reinforce their lower-order further, by resting one of veteran seamers Stuart Broad or James Anderson in favour of all-rounder Chris Woakes.

The Oval surface is traditionally the most batting friendly of the English Test pitches - and it seems unlikely that England will dispense with either of their spin options. Moeen Ali's nine-wicket haul at the Rose Bowl might mean that Adil Rashid is sacrificed for Woakes, should England want an extra seam option.

Skipper Joe Root finds himself as the only man in the top four assured of his spot at the moment, but he hasn't had the best of series with the bat - and will be eager to end it with runs on the board.
  
India
India have not been outclassed by any stretch of the imagination - and the tight nature of this series will leave them with a lot of 'what ifs'.

The final Test will provide the squad the chance to show how much they have learned and progressed, on a tour where they have had the hosts on the ropes often.

The tourists are likely to fiddle with their combination slightly, but wholesale changes would be a surprise, as skipper Virat Kohli will be looking to build towards future overseas success.

Whether India will call left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja into action for the first time in the series, or give reserve seamer Umesh Yadav another shot at England, is of particular intrigue. 
  
Uncapped batsmen Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari will, no doubt, be hopeful of catching the skipper's eye in training and possibly earning a debut.

The focus will be on trying to clinch a second win of the series - and maintaining their lead at the top of the Test rankings.
  
Verdict: India 8/10

With the pressure off, India should have the quality to get one over on England, who famously tend to switch off in dead rubbers. 

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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