By News Team
3rd March 2021
Much was expected of the Test series between India and England and in terms of drama and intrigue it has certainly delivered.
India’s thumping win inside two days in the third Test has seen them take a 2-1 lead in the series, meaning the visitors must win in Ahmedabad this week to salvage a draw.
Here’s our preview of the fourth and final Test match, which gets under way on Thursday.
Turning pitches suiting India down to the ground
Having been humbled in the opening Test, India (4/9) have roared back into life in the past two matches thanks in no small part to their spinners. Both Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel have dominated the English batsmen, particularly in the most recent encounter where the visitors were bowled out for 112 and 81.
Granted, the pitches have suited the India spinners and some have even gone as far as to state that the pitches have been unfair. That might be true given the third Test lasted less than two days, but you’ve still got to put the ball in the right areas on a consistent basis and that’s exactly what Ashwin and Patel have done. Unsurprisingly, with the fourth pitch in this game expected to suit the slower bowlers again, Ashwin (7/4) and Patel (2/1) are the favourites to be India’s leading wicket takers in the first innings.
Although he has scored two 50s in the series, many expected Virat Kohli to score more runs than he has. We all know how special a batsman he is and it’s clear that opposition bowling attacks target him knowing how important a wicket he is. He hasn’t scored a Test match 100 since November 2019 – a stat he’ll be keen to address here. William Hill have boosted his price to 5/2 to be India’s top run scorer in the first innings, while he’s 5/6 to score over 38.5 runs.
Wounded England hoping for dramatic turnaround
There’s no doubt that England’s confidence took an almighty hit in the third Test. To be beaten inside two days is humbling for any side and it was a defeat that showed this is a side, particularly in sub-continent conditions, that still has plenty to learn. In terms of the batting, Joe Root has been one the bright spark and you feel if England are going to get that win here, they’ll need their captain to score the bulk of their runs. Root, who is 15/8 to score the most runs for England in the first innings, is the glue that keeps this batting order intact and if he doesn’t fire, the batsmen around him tend to follow suit. The England coaching set-up will know how important he is and Root is 4/1 to score a century in England’s opening salvo.
As mentioned, it’s almost guaranteed that the Ahmedabad pitch is going to be conducive to turn and thus Jack Leach and potentially Dom Bess are going to have big roles to play. Leach looked short of match practice in Sri Lanka but has, for the most part, bowled well in this series and has once again established himself as England’s best spinner in the longest form of the game. He’ll be expected to bowl the bulk of the overs in both Indian innings and is 5/2 to top the bowling charts for England in the first one.
It will be interesting to see how England (7/2) line up for this one, but you’d have to think Bess – 5/2 to be England’s top first innings bowler – will come back into the side. He can be expensive, but does pick up wickets and can also offer handy runs at the lower-end of an innings. If he can form a solid partnership with Leach, England do have a chance of upsetting this powerful Indian batting line-up and you feel that will be the secret if England want to escape from the series with a draw.