India aim to extend winning run in fourth Test vs England (Preview)
Mumbai, Dec 7 (IANS) Having already pocketed the five-match cricket Test rubber, with an unassailable 2-0 lead, a confident India will be aiming to keep the winning momentum going when they face an inconsistent England in the fourth match at the Wankhede Stadium here from Thursday.
This will be the first instance since 1989 when India will play a Test at the Wankhede sans retired batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
The fourth Test will also give India a chance to exact revenge for their loss in their previous two Test meetings at the ground before heading to Chennai for the final encounter.
Going into Thursday’s encounter, the Virat Kohli-led side will aim to extend their dominant run despite some injury concerns in the squad.
The top-order batting has clicked well for the hosts with Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli himself exhibiting great form in the middle while all-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have handled any hiccups brilliantly lower down the order.
Senior wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel, who was drafted into the national side after after an eight-year long wait, has displayed good maturity behind the stumps as well as an opening bat with scores of 42 and unbeaten 67 in the third Test at Mohali.
But with the return to fitness after a forearm injury of opener Lokesh Rahul, Patel may be asked to bat down the order.
Youngster Karun Nair, who made his Test debut at Mohali, looks likely to make way for Rahul.
Kohli will however, be concerned with the form of opener Murali Vijay who has failed to click in this series so far.
Kohli’s deputy Ajinkya Rahane, however, has been ruled out of the remainder of the Test rubber after the Mumbai batsman sustained an avulsion fracture on his right index finger during training on Wednesday.
Manish Pandey has been named as Rahane’s replacement.
The bowling department have so far fared decently with pacers Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami managing to be amongst the wickets with the new ball.
However, Shami’s concerns with a sore knee makes him a doubtful starter. In his absence, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be Umesh’s likely new ball partner.
Local boy Shardul Thakur has been named as a back-up option in case Shami is ruled out of the squad.
The spin department, comprising the trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant Yadav have well established their supremacy over the English batsman and Kohli is likely retain the trio at the spin-friendly Wankhede.
India will also aim to keep their 16-match unbeaten streak and are just one short of equalling their own unbeaten record of 17 games without a loss.
On the other hand, despite conceding the series, the visitors are expected to come hard after spending a week away in Dubai.
England had also replaced two injured players — teenaged opener Haseeb Hameed and left arm spinner Zafar Ansari — with two uncapped players — Keaton Jennings and Liam Dawson.
For any chance of reviving their fortune in the ongoing series, the visitors will bank on their batting, which has failed to click as a unit so far.
Skipper Alastair Cook will be expecting atleast two of his main batsmen — Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler and stumper Jonny Bairstow — to spend enough time in the middle while handling the Indian spinners.
Promising left-handed opener Jennings is likely to partner Cook at the top.
Meanwhile, the return of pacer Stuart Broad, who missed the third game after sustaining a foot injury in the Visakhapatnam Test, will lend enough teeth to their bowling attack.
The visitors are likely to go in with four pacers with leg-spinner Adil Rashid and Moeen filling the spinners’ slots.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Manish Pandey, Ravichandran Ashwin, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
England: Alastair Cook (Captain), Keaton Jennings, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Liam Dawson, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.