India’s comeback at The Oval was one for the ages, in a venue where they had not won for 50 years before their victory in the fourth Test of the series. It was a culmination of a perfect team effort, with the batsman putting on a dazzling display, including Rohit Sharma’s century, Shardul Thakur’s twin fifties and a complete bowling performance from the visitors.
While India have secured the Pataudi Trophy, leading 2-1 in the series, they would want to complete the job in Manchester, where conditions are assured to favour the spinners. However, with Manchester tags along rain, which in forecast could play as a spoilsport in the finale. Virat Kohli’s India though, would want to walk away with their first Test trophy in England and India’s first Test series win since 2007. Rain wasn't the only predicament that they India had to face, with the COVID-19 scare on the eve of the Test.
Head to Head in Test cricket
Played 130 | India W31 | England W49 | 50 Draws
Last 5 matches
India W 4 | England W 1
Old Trafford, Manchester
Since 2015, the formulae to success in Old Trafford has been pretty straightforward – win the toss and bat first. Three out of the four times that the teams have batted first at the venue, they have come away as the victors. Like the Oval, the Old Trafford is also set to be a venue where runs are going to be on offer. Since 2015, Old Trafford has the second highest average score in the first innings (435 runs) at a run-rate of 3.3 with an average of 31.4 runs/wicket.
However, for teams batting in the second innings of the Test, the average score goes down to 238, which then declines. The highest run-chase at the venue in the recent five years, has been 277, chased down by England against Pakistan last year. In the last six years, at the venue, 70% of the overs has been bowled by pacers, with 153 wickets, accounting for 76.5% of the wickets.
On the other hand, spin has only contributed to 29.8% of the overs for 23.5% of the wickets, with 47 wickets. Both teams, however, are set to play at least the one spinner with the conditions at the venue set to be dry but it might not be the worst venue to play two spinners.
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms, we have come up with one team.
Having never played a Test at Old Trafford, the possibility of Rohit Sharma being a captain is bizarre. Hold on to that thought, in three appearances at the venue, the Indian opener has scored a century and in total, has piled 159 runs in the three games, averaging 53. Now that is white-ball cricket but against England at The Oval, the Indian opener broke his drought of Test centuries away from home.
Against England, the right-handed batsman averages 43.94, more than his career average and thus far, also has played his most number of deliveries in a Test series. With no real weakness against a type of bowling, there is a real chance that the Indian opener can convert his Oval adulation into an outstanding innings at Old Trafford.
Jasprit Bumrah’s form in this series has been surreal after the rile-up at Lord’s. The Indian pacer is currently the second-best pacer in the series, with 18 wickets, only behind Ollie Robinson’s 21 wickets in the series. Bumrah’s average thus far in the series has also been second best (20.83), only behind Chris Woakes (19.71). With six wickets in his last two Tests, the 27-year-old pacer has come alive in the series.
While the conditions in Manchester are set to be dry, Bumrah’s performance at The Oval shows that he could perform in any given conditions with his unreal ability to reverse the ball. With the ball set to aid reverse swing at Old Trafford, there is every chance that the Indian pacer could end up as the highest wicket-taker in the series.
Joe Root’s sensational record against India has become a well-known thesis but his performance at Old Trafford is equally unparalleled. In six Tests at the venue, the English skipper has scored 683 runs, the most at the venue in the last six years, at an average of 68.3. On top of that, the right-handed batsman has a high score of 254 at the venue, with four fifties, signalling that he could well be England’s X-factor player.
With 564 runs already in the series, the English skipper averages 94, at a strike rate of 60.71, which shows that he has been actively looking for runs in the series. Following his horror show in London, 21 and 36, Root would be aiming to return back to form in Manchester.
Player match-up to watch out for
Jonny Bairstow’s struggles against Jasprit Bumrah is well documented, with the Indian pacer having dismissed the England batsman three times, conceding just 17 runs. While Bairstow has been a crucial part of this English setup, his performance against Bumrah has been notable in this series, with the pacer’s searing yorker to dismiss him at The Oval. Furthermore, the 27-year-old has a bowling strike-rate of 23.33 against Bairstow.
Predicted Lineups -
England XI - Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Jack Leach, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson
India XI - Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj