IND vs ENG: The two teams are all set for one final hurrah at Edgbaston on Friday for the rescheduled fifth Test of the Test series that began last August.
A lot has changed since then – not least the captains and coaches of both teams. India will be without their new regular skipper Rohit Sharma due to covid and will be led by speedster Jasprit Bumrah.
A change in the conditions from the first four Tests to now is conspicuous. While the first four Tests saw pacers dominate on spicy pitches and the game moving quickly, now, taking a cue from the three Tests where England defeated New Zealand, the pitch is expected to be a belter for batting and it would be a hard graft for the bowlers to force the issue.
How many fast bowlers will play in all?
England have already announced their final playing eleven. Legendary pacer James Anderson, who missed the third Test against the Kiwis due to a niggle, is fit and back in the eleven replacing Jamie Overton, the pacer who made his Test debut in Anderson’s absence.
England playing XI: Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Sam Billings (w), Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson.
England have three seamers plus seam-bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes and one spinner – Leach, whose inclusion suggests the kind of surface that has been laid down – flat, one that will keep the game alive till the last day.
In that case, India might opt to go with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin instead of Shardul Thakur. Now, notably, Ashwin didn’t play a single of the four Tests in this series last year and Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, the then pair of captain-coach, decided to go with four pacers (including Thakur) with Ravindra Jadeja in assistance as the lone spinner.
This could change now, though, for the Edgbaston Test. Thakur was the seam-bowling all-rounder then, but now, with the game expected to last till Day 5, and England having left-handers Alex Lees and Ben Stokes, R Ashwin’s case is stronger than Thakur’s.
India expected playing XI: Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara/Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah (C)
So England have 4 fast bowlers (including Stokes) and India are likely to play with three fast bowlers (excluding Thakur).