IND vs ENG: Virat Kohli and Co look to end on positive note at Oval Test
A competent Team India will look to avoid 1-4 scoreline and end hard-fought five-Test series on positive note against England in fifth Test beginning today
Another away series, another dead rubber. Virat Kohli might hate the words 'dead rubber', but the fact of the matter is that a team that has promised so much before the series, will go into the fifth and final Test at The Oval today trying to avoid a dreaded 4-1 scoreline.
If India finish the series 2-3, it might be a fair reflection of the contest. But a loss in the final Test is sure to attract more criticism for Kohli & Co, especially since the England team have been largely unsettled throughout the series. Since the start of the tour, head coach Ravi Shastri has created an atmosphere by using words such as 'ruthless, accountability, commitment, aggressive, clinical, world's best travelling team'. However, a loss at The Oval and they will be known as team that talked and only talked.
At least, Shastri conceded recently that the team is willing to bend the rules and be more flexible moving ahead. One change that is certain is the replacement of Ravichandran Ashwin with Ravindra Jadeja.
Ashwin, for the second day, took no part in the training session yesterday. Asked about the off-spinner's fitness, a member of the support staff told mid-day: "Isn't it quite clear from the work he [Ashwin] has done in the last two days?" Another player that could potentially lose his spot is all-rounder Hardik Pandya. In a dramatic twist, and from the evidence of yesterday's net session, there is a strong chance that Hanuma Vihari could be handed a debut. He is likely to bat at No. 6.
For the last two days, Vihari has spent ample time bowling his off-spinners. The elegant right-hander also batted in the nets alongside middle-order batsmen Ajinkya Rahane and wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant.
The pitch at The Oval has a tinge of grass, but is similar to Southampton — dry underneath. Spinners are once again expected to play a comprehensive role on the last two days of the match.
Meanwhile, skipper Joe Root confirmed that England will play the same XI as in the Southampton Test. The England skipper also affirmed that he will bat at No.4 and Moeen Ali will remain at No. 3, as the hosts plan to prepare sending off Alastair Cook into retirement on a winning note.
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