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Stuart Dalgleish 9th Aug 2011 - 13:08

Rain could save India's blushes

England v India third Test preview - 11:00 live on Sky Sports 1

England (13/10) have been absolutely dominant in this series with India (4/1, draw 11/8) and are on the verge of overtaking their opponents as the number one ranked Test team.

The tourists have to win at least one of the remaining matches to try stay on top, I'm not sure they have the players to do that now but they could be helped out by the weather in this one.

Having a glance at the forecast, the powers that be must be kicking themselves for starting this match on a Wednesday, as the first four scheduled days are all predicted to be affected by the rain.

From Sunday onwards though conditions look a lot brighter - a Friday start could have given England plenty of time to win the match.

To be fair, England have shown before that they don't always need the full allocated time to defeat teams, but four days affected by rain could be too much for Andrew Strauss' (4/1 top England batsman) men to overcome.

England's chances have also been hampered by two key players picking up injuries; Jonathan Trott and Chris Tremlett suffering shoulder and back injuries respectively.

Ravi Bopara (8/1) will come into the batting line-up, while it also means that the selectors don't have a difficult choice to make in the bowling attack - Tim Bresnan (7/2 top England bowler) almost certain to keep his place now after a fantastic performance at Trent Bridge. Steven Finn (4/1) is also an option.

Bopara has been unfortunate over the last couple of years, he burst on to the Test scene and looked like holding down the number three slot, but then a disastrous Ashes series saw him lose his place and not really get a look-in since.

In a weird sort of way though, this has meant that his subsequent appearances for England have been impressive, he seems to play with a lot more freedom as there isn't as much pressure on him, I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to contribute with a 50 at Edgbaston (2/1), or even a three figure score (7/1 - both firsts innings only).

This would just continue England's canny knack of bringing in players with instant success; it is fast becoming their hallmark and it's making the selectors' job harder and harder to have to tell people they're missing out.

Steven Finn is a prime example of England's impressive pool of players, the giant bowler was the leading wicket-taker Down Under but got dropped and has hardly been seen since - Tremlett and Bresnan both benefitted from his misfortune and now it's unlikely he'll get a look-in barring any more injuries, and he's a top class option to have on the sidelines.

So while England have got an embarrassment of riches, the supposed best team in Test cricket are really struggling since losing some key players.

Three huge players are not expected to play again in this series - Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh; Virender Sehwag (7/2 top India batsman) returns but they haven't got the same quality as England waiting in the wings to replace the two bowlers.

Pragyan Ojha (4/1 top India bowler) comes in for Harbhajan, Sreesanth (3/1) should retain the spot vacated by Zaheer.

If it was clear weather I'd be piling into England as I can't see India bowling them out twice, but luckily for the tourists they might just get away with their depleted side and earn a draw, all that would mean they HAVE to win at the Oval or their stay at the top will be over.

With so many of India's players in the twilights of their careers, it could be a long time till they get back up to the top, while England could rule the roost for some years to come.

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