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ENG vs IND: Focus on Ashwin & Shardul as India eye improved performance in fourth test at Oval | XtraTime

ENG vs IND: Team India likely to make changes for Oval test; axe may fall on this cricketer | XtraTime


Will Team India make any changes in its playing XI for the fourth test at Oval? Image Source: BCCI

Xtra Time Web Desk: All eyes will be on the Indian team management whether they make any changes in the playing XI for the fourth test match against England at the Oval starting from Thursday. The focus will be on senior off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin whether he gets an opportunity for the all important fourth test with the series leveled at 1-1. Another key consensus is the form of Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. Barring the half century in the second innings at Lord’s, the Mumbai batsman has failed to live up to the expectation.

The biggest concern for the Indian team is the form of its three middle-order stalwarts — the skipper himself, Cheteshwar Pujara and his deputy Rahane. Pujara might have redeemed himself with a knock of 91 which was high on “intent quotient” but the same can”t be said about Rahane, whose form is shaky despite a crucial 61 in the second innings at the Lord”s. In all likelihood, Rahane would get another chance but over the past two years, his inconsistency has hurt this team badly. A total of 95 runs in five innings at an average of 19 is not an indicator of Rahane”s qualities.

A stroke player like Suryakumar Yadav or an orthodox batter like Hanuma Vihari might bring in a bit of freshness in the middle-order. If Rahane is dropped at all, then Vihari has a better chance of coming in as he also bowls off-spin.

Another major concern for the visitors has been Ravindra Jadeja’s form with the ball in this series. The left arm spinner has only picked two wickets from three games and has looked less effective. The bowler from Sourashtra also had a slight injury concern with his knee but scans revealed that it was not serious.

The Oval track which has traditionally helped spinners can see Ravichandran Ashwin getting his first opportunity in the series. The off spinner had a six-wicket haul in a county game for Surrey (vs Somerset)  and he might just bring in his 400 plus wicket experience to trouble the English batters who have been wary of him in the past.

But Kohli, whose fascination for four pacers is well documented, might want to replace an off-colour Ishant Sharma with Shardul Thakur, who is more of an all-rounder and it remains to be seen if Ashwin comes in place of Jadeja, who hasn”t been penetrative enough.

Similarly, the skipper has indicated looking at the workload of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, both of whom have bowled over 100 overs in the series so far.