After three to-and-fro Tests thus far in the series, here we are at The Oval, where sides can either make it or break all the hard work that they have done thus far in the series. While the visitors put on a show in the last Test that was in London – at the Lord’s, their performance at Headingley definitely came as a shocker for the fans.
With India’s last Test series win in England coming in 2007, under the leadership of Rahul Dravid, the dream is still on for Virat Kohli and co to capture the English land, with some exquisite cricket. For the hosts, on the other hand, it is not just about pride after their fantastic win at Headingley, with the entire series on the line. All is still there to play for the both sides, the Oval Test should be a cracker on the paper and in the field.
Head to Head in Test cricket
Played 129 | India W30 | England W49 | 50 Draws
Last 5 matches
India W3 | England W1 | 1 Draws
One of the crucial pieces of the puzzle to success at the Kennington Oval is to bat first, with 37 wins for the teams batting first at the venue against 28 times the team has won batting second. Since 2015, in the last five clashes at the venue, the hosts – England have won three Tests, all by huge margins – 135 runs, 118 runs and 239 runs. Pakistan and Australia are the last two sides, which have come away from the venue with a positive result.
The average first innings total at the venue is 349, with 72.3% of the total wickets at the venue being taken by the pacers (408). However, in the recent years, the conditions at The Oval has allowed for spinners to have a fair share of say in the game, with 156 wickets. Since 2018, however, the conditions slowed down, with spinners taking 26 wickets at the venue, which potentially could mean the comeback for Ravichandran Ashwin.
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England skipper Joe Root has been on a rampage in the last three Tests, with 272, 222 and 51 points. More importantly, in his last two Tests, Root walks into Kennington Oval on the back of three centuries against India (121, 180*, 109) in his last three Tests, showing a rich vein of form.
With the conditions at The Oval set to be batting-friendly, there is a strong possibility of the English skipper running away with the accolades, looking at his form. On an average, he has scored 137.2 points, including three appearances in the Dream Team.
Ollie Robinson’s form has been excellent, with 23 wickets in just four Tests for the Three Lions. While not only has he picked up wickets in conditions that favour his bowling, his relentless spells have caused troubles outside of the supporting pitches as well. In the last three Tests against India, the Sussex pacer has ended with spells of 5/65, 2/16, 2/45, 2/73, 0/21 and 5/85. With an average of 17.65 in his Test career, there is a strong possibility for him to continue his bowling onslaught against India in the fourth Test.
Dawid Malan’s comeback has certainly been all pretty thus far, with 70 runs in the Leeds Test. With the conditions at The Oval set to be more faithful to the batsmen, as the scores have suggested in the past, the left-hander has a real chance of upgrading his Test numbers, from his current average of 29.40.
In Leeds, the left-hander showed all signs that he belongs to the highest level of the game and in London, there presents an opportunity for the southpaw to add on to his run-scoring form.
For India, there is plenty of worry going into the fourth Test at The Oval, nothing more than the state of their batting unit. In the first innings of the third Test, the visitors were folded for a meagre total of 78, where barring Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, none of the batters could make an impact.
While things got better in the second innings, with Pujara (91), Kohli (55) and Rohit (59) all scoring runs, it couldn’t prevent India from collapsing to an innings defeat, at the hands of the hosts. Coming to The Oval, there presents an opportunity for the Indian opener – Rohit Sharma – to make a mark. Thus far in the series, Rohit has consistently got the starts, with scores of 59, 19, 21, 83, 12 and 36.
With the conditions expected to be batting friendly, there is a real chance for Rohit to right the wrong with a century.
Player match-up to watch out for
While Cheteshwar Pujara last match brought out his best form in two years, Ajinkya Rahane’s form was a dismal worry for the visitors, who aim to take the lead at The Oval. The biggest obstacle for Rahane – James Anderson. The English bowler has dismissed the Indian vice-captain seven times in the last five years, conceding just 55 runs.
Predicted Lineups -
England XI - Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Dan Lawrence, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, 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, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj