Eng­land bid to keep In­dia series alive

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Eng­land are bid­ding to keep the In­dia series alive with vic­tory in this week’s fourth Test in Mumbai but de­feat will raise fur­ther ques­tions about Alas­tair Cook’s fu­ture as cap­tain. The vis­i­tors must win at the Wankhede Sta­dium to stop top-ranked In­dia from seal­ing the five-Test series with a match to spare fol­low­ing two con­sec­u­tive de­feats.

Vi­rat Kohli’s side won by eight wick­ets in Mo­hali last week to take an un­beat­able 2-0 series lead af­ter vic­tory in Viskha­p­at­nam fol­lowed a draw in the first Test at Ra­jkot.

Any­thing less than a vic­tory for Eng­land would see In­dia ex­act re­venge for their 2012 home series loss to Cook’s men and add to un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the English skip­per.

His fu­ture as cap­tain has been in doubt since he ad­mit­ted just be­fore the tour that he could quit at the end of the Test series be­cause he was find­ing it hard to be apart from his fam­ily for long pe­ri­ods. Af­ter be­com­ing a fa­ther for a sec­ond time last month, the 31-year-old left-handed opener said he found the long Eng­land tours dif­fi­cult, while in­sist­ing he re­mained deeply proud of cap­tain­ing his coun­try. De­spite Eng­land’s tra­vails in In­dia, coach Trevor Bayliss said he ex­pected Cook to be in charge for the Ashes tour at the end of 2017. “He’s talk­ing about the next Ashes series and be­ing out in Aus­tralia,” Bayliss told BBC Sport.

“Some­times there are lit­tle com­ments made along the way and they get blown out of all pro­por­tion. He’s cer­tainly up for the fight. I haven’t had any dis­cus­sion with him any other way and that’s what we’ve been work­ing to­wards,” the Aus­tralian coach added.

Cook also re­ceived the back­ing of bats­man Joe Root who hailed his skip­per as a “bril­liant leader”.

“Hope­fully, we get these re­sults we want in the last two games and we can put right what has been quite a frus­trat­ing last cou­ple of weeks,” Root, 25, told re­porters last week. Eng­land’s chances of sal­vaging the series were dealt a blow how­ever when teenage bat­ting sen­sa­tion Haseeb Hameed was ruled out of the re­main­ing two matches af­ter in­jur­ing his hand dur­ing the Mo­hali match.

The 19-year-old’s ab­sence could mean a Test de­but for opener Keaton Jen­nings. The 24-year-old South Africa-born left-handed bats­man has been called up as Hameed’s re­place­ment.

All-rounder Liam Daw­son is also in con­tention for a place af­ter be­ing drafted in to re­place left-arm spin­ner Za­far An­sari, who is strug­gling with a back in­jury he sus­tained in the sec­ond Test in Visakha­p­at­nam. Eng­land will be boosted by the likely re­turn of fast bowler Stu­art Broad who has re­cov­ered from a strained ten­don in his foot. In­dia are ex­pected to be able to call upon the ser­vices of opener Lokesh Rahul who has re­cov­ered from the in­jury that kept him out of the Mo­hali Test, ac­cord­ing to In­dia me­dia re­ports.

His re­turn threat­ens the in­volve­ment of Karun Nair who en­dured a dis­ap­point­ing Test de­but in Mo­hali.

Wick­et­keeper Parthiv Pa­tel, who im­pressed with both bat and gloves in Mo­hali af­ter eight years in the Test wilder­ness, is ex­pected to keep his place as Wrid­dhi­man Saha has yet to re­cover from a thigh strain. For­mer In­dian bats­man Viren­der Se­hwag ex­pects In­dia to be too strong for Eng­land but be­lieves the vis­i­tors will not give up the series with­out a fight. “I think we will win 3-0 as I ex­pect Eng­land to show some re­sis­tance and that’s why I won’t pre­dict 4-0,” he told the Press Trust of In­dia news agency. The fi­nal Test be­gins in Chen­nai on De­cem­ber 16.

In­dia (from): Vi­rat Kohli (capt), Mu­rali Vi­jay, Lokesh Rahul, Chetesh­war Pu­jara, Ajinkya Ra­hane, Ravichan­dran Ashwin, Parthiv Pa­tel, Ravin­dra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Mo­hammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Bhu­vensh­war Kumar.

Eng­land (from): Alas­tair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jos But­tler, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, James An­der­son, Jake Ball, Gary Bal­lance, Gareth Batty, Stu­art Broad, Liam Daw­son, Ben Duck­ett, Keaton Jen­nings. —AFP

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