Having already lost the series, India will be playing for pride as well as spoil Alastair Cook’s farewell party in the fifth and final Test against England starting Friday at The Oval. Also Read - Former England Captain Alastair Cook Gives Thumbs Down For Shortened County Cricket Championship
England took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-Test series after defeating India by 60 runs in Southampton. However, the final match will provide Virat Kohli to end what has been quite a long tour on a high. A scoreline of 2-3 will definitely look much better than 1-4 and the visitors will be desperately hoping to win. Also Read - India's Tour of Australia 2020 in Jeopardy as Australia Government Imposes Six Months Travel Ban
Apart from the skipper, coach Ravi Shastri has also faced the wrath of both the fans and the former cricketers. Despite that, Shastri has tried to keep the morale of the team high by calling it the “best travelling side in last 15 years”, something that is not factually correct. Also Read - Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli? Wasim Jaffer’s Response Will Leave You in Splits | SEE POST
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If one looks at the stats, he will find that under Sourav Ganguly’s leadership, India drew Test series in England (2002) and Australia (2003-04) apart from winning a Test in West Indies (a team that had Brian Lara, Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul) and a series in Pakistan. Under Rahul Dravid, India won twin series in West Indies (2006) and England (2007) apart from winning a Test in South Africa.
Under Anil Kumble, India won a Test match on a bouncy Perth for the first time while under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian team won a series in New Zealand and also for the only time drew a series in South Africa.
Under Kohli’s captaincy, India have now lost back to back overseas series in South Africa and England and thus, the myth of being good travellers has been busted. India, however, have been able to hold on to their number one Test ranking despite series’ losses in both overseas tours in 2018 thus far.
As far as the Indian playing XI is concerned, there are high chances of the management going for a few experiments.
Prithvi Shaw can be seen making his Test debut at The Oval, replacing KL Rahul who has been in awful form in the Test series so far. Also, Hardik Pandya, who has not been able to perform as per expectations, can be made to sit out, making room for Hanuma Vihari in the middle, as he is also a handy spinner.
Also, with Ravichandran Ashwin not bowling in the nets on Wednesday and moving gingerly as well, it is certain that left-arm all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja will play his first Test on the tour.
For England, the match will be marked more by emotion than anything else. One of their greatest ever, Cook, takes his final bow and leaves the hosts potentially searching for two openers for their tour of Sri Lanka later in the year.
England have already announced that they will play with the same XI that featured in Southampton, the only difference being Jonny Bairstow taking over the wicketkeeping responsibility back from Jos Buttler.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.
England: Joe Root (c), Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes.
(With PTI inputs)