Following a lackluster performance in the Old Trafford the Indians would surely be trying to make amends in the final and decisive test in the series. On the other hand England would be glad enough to clinch a series win after a long draught which began after the last summer.
After an ephemeral victory at Lords, the Indian batting had cowered in front of the English pace battery led by Anderson and Broad. The final surprise came from the newcomer Ali whose innocuous off-spin sent shivers down the Indian spine.
With the exception of Aaron, the Indian bowling was pretty mediocre; the return of Ishant in the squad may kindle hopes in Dhoni and his teammates. Stuart Binny was dropped after the second test and may be a replacement for Jadeja who failed to perform in the last two matches
If India is to succeed in this match and square the series, Vijay, Pujara and Rahane will have to hold the crease a bit longer. Gambhir who found his way in the starting line-up after a gap of almost one and a half year struggled against the bouncers in both the innings. Even the most staunch supporter of Kohli would not fail to notice his fumble as he edged in almost every innings to the slip cordon or the keeper. It is high time he steadied himself and provided a dependable blade for his side.
The hosts now holding the reign can breathe a sigh of relief after a disastrous start. While Sam Robson proved to be a weak link, Gary Ballance continued his parade with fine display of skills and temperament. England have found a dependable middle order lead by Joe Root and aided by Buttler who amazed the spectators with a vast repertoire of strokes borrowed from limited over matches while maintaining the temperament of the classic format.
Stuart Broad will play for the final match although he missed the practice sessions nursing his broken nose. The Nottinghamshire pacer orchestrated the win at Old Trafford with an enviable 6/25. The final match will depend on how India would tackle Broad and Anderson.
The spin-friendly tracks of Oval may provide a challenge for the English batsmen as they take on Ashwin. On the other hand, the tourists, arguably one of the best spin playing sides may find it difficult to cross the hurdle of playing Moeen Ali, considering the previous matches.
Out of the 11 matches played so far in the Oval between India and England, India managed to register only a single win, that too back in 1969. England had won 3 matches -the rest being drawn. It is hard to speculate the results from the records so far, but then a glance at the recent records of India-England matches will easily tell that the balance is tilted towards the English side.
The suggested 11 for India and England are given below:
India: M S Dhoni(c & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhubaneshwar Kumar,Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma
England: Alastair Cook (c),Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Jos Buttler(wk), Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Chris Woakes, Steve Finn