Village Voice News

India, filled with confidence, has a selection conundrum, while England hopes to redeem itself in a series finale

<p>When the two teams meet in the possibly series-deciding fourth Test starting here on Friday, India’s forceful and adaptable style will be the advantage over England’s supposedly depth-less “Bazball” strategy. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah’s absence is a problem.</p>
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<p>The change in climate from the arid Rajkot heat to the somewhat colder Ranchi would be the only consolation for the English players who have fallen behind the tenacious hosts and are now down 1-2.</p>
<p>India, aiming for their 17th straight series victory at home, have been all but unbeatable since their shocking loss to Alastair Cook’s England in 2012. Since then, India has won an incredible 38 of the 47 Test matches, and they have only lost twice (against Australia and England).</p>
<p>The main lesson from the series so far has been the young players’ performance, as Rohit Sharma has found answers from them while leading a diminished batting lineup in the absence of KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Virat Kohli.</p>
<p>India’s future generation of batsmen is demonstrating how a smooth transition can occur, whether it is Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has amassed 545 runs at an impressive average of 109, Sarfaraz Khan, who ended his protracted wait for a Test debut with a blistering 66-ball 62 in Rajkot, or Shubman Gill, who is gradually settling in at No. 3.</p>
<p>It could be India’s weakest point in Ranchi to replace Bumrah, who has taken the most wickets (17) in a series that was predicted to be dominated by spinners.</p>
<p>After delivering a little over 80 overs in the three previous Test matches, Bumrah was rested.</p>
<p>The main reason for the 106-run victory that leveled the series 1-1 on the second day of the Vizag Test was his mastery of the reverse swing during a six-wicket blitz.</p>
<p>Bumrah made inroads on a submissive Rajkot surface as well, providing India with significant breakthroughs.</p>
<p>Mohammed Siraj is the only seasoned bowler in the starting lineup as Bumrah has been rested due to the challenging seaming conditions in Dharamsala for the fifth Test and the upcoming busy Indian Premier League season.</p>
<p>The Bengal pair of Mukesh Kumar and the uncapped Akash Deep will square off for the second pacer’s spot in Ranchi.</p>
<p>Mukesh is not only more seasoned but also teamed with Bumrah in the Vizag Test, coming off of a career-best 10-wicket haul in the Ranji Trophy. But in only 12 overs, he claimed one wicket in each of the two innings.</p>
<p>It’s unclear whether the Indian think tank would stick with Mukesh, who has at best been mediocre, or take the chance of handing another debut cap.</p>
<p>History indicates that a strategy with two seamers and three spinners will work well on the JSCA Stadium ground. However, England has determined that the best combination would be one seamer attack and four spinners.</p>
<p>“This proposal is intriguing…After the squad arrived here on Thursday, Ollie Pope, the vice captain of England, said, “There are a few cracks, very platey and looked a bit crusty, the top layer. One half is good, and the other has a lot of platey cracks.”</p>
<p>That may include Shoaib Bashir in addition to Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed, and Joe Root, who plays part-time. In this series, Root has amassed more overs (107), than runs (77).</p>
<p>It is doubtful that Axar Patel will be summoned back for India, who have favored the traditional two-pacer-three-spinner combo. The group is anticipated to remain composed of Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and Ravichandran Ashwin.</p>
<p>The Ranchi pitch has often proved to be misleading to visiting teams.</p>
<p>South Africa lost the penultimate Test match of 2019 against the spin combination of Ashwin, Jadeja, and Shahbaz Nadeem, who took eight wickets each, while Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav split ten wickets between them.</p>
<p>It has never been a factor in ranking. For the first two days, the pitch would be ideal for batting and would help with spin on the third day. The neighborhood groundskeeper told PTI, “History should repeat itself.”</p>
<p>The victory in Hyderabad is already a distant memory for the “Baseball”-inspired England, and a replay of 2021, when India rallied to win the four-Test series 3-1, is possible.</p>
<p>The 434-run thumping in Rajkot set a record and has prompted to criticism of England’s alleged aggressive ‘Bazball’ strategy. After seeing some degree of success against New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Australia, it seems to have found a home in India.</p>
<p>While players like Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, who hit a spectacular 153 in Rajkot, benefited from the go-for-strokes approach, it has also been fatal for players like Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.</p>
<p>Although Root was supposed to be their primary hitter to handle the spin problem, his reverse scoop to Bumrah at Rajkot perfectly encapsulated his current state of chaos.</p>
<p>Ben Stokes, the captain, chose to bowl in the nets before of the fourth Test in an attempt to speed up his recovery from a knee injury, demonstrating his eagerness to find a way out.</p>
<p><strong>Squads: </strong></p>
<p><strong>The following players represent India:</strong> Devdutt Padikkal, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep; Rohit Sharma (C), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (WK), KS Bharat (WK).</p>
<p>Ben Stokes (captain), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, and Mark Wood are the England players.</p>