India vs England 4th Test: With WTC final berth at stake, Kohli’s side aim to seal the series


Riding high on confidence Team India will aim to clinch the Test series and confirm their berth in the World Test Championship final when they take on  a troubled England in the fourth and final Test of the four-match series which is scheduled to commence from Thursday (March 4) at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

After suffering a massive 227-run defeat in the first game in Chennai, India bounced back with two consecutive victories to take 2-1 lead in the series and now the hosts only needs to draw the final Test against Joe Root’s men in order to clinch the series and seal a spot in the WTC final.

In the last Test played with the pink ball in Ahmedabad, Virat Kohli and co. registered a 10-wicket win within two days, which will give them enough confidence to outplay England in the summit game of the series.

Bowlers from both sides delivered stand-out performances in the game as 30 wickets fell within a little over five sessions in the third Test. On the other hand, almost all the batsmen, barring Rohit Sharma and Zak Crawley, were found wanting as they struggled against the turning and skidding balls. The pitch for the fourth Test is expected to once again assist the spinners, thus making it more difficult for the visitors.

Notably, India’s premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and young Axar Patel picked up 18 of the 20 England wickets between them to bowl England out for 112 runs in their first innings and then 81 in the second of the third Test match, which was finished inside two days thus stirring the controversy apropos nature of the pitch.

WTC Final berth at stake

For India the equation is simple – they need to avoid loss in the final Test to book their place in WTC Final where will then take on New Zealand at the Lord’s from June 18-22.

However, if England, somehow, manages to win the final Test and thereby draw the series, the WTC final will then be contested between New Zealand and Australia.

Also, other motivation for the England team going into the final Test would be to gain some much-needed confidence ahead of the limited-overs leg of the tour.

Root has already said that if his side manages to win the final Test then it would be one of his greatest achievements as a captain.

“You look at India’s record at home in recent times and it’s incredible. So, for us to come away with a drawn series would be a really good achievement, especially off the back of the last two games. We’ve had two challenging weeks but that doesn’t define us as a team. We need to look at this as a real opportunity to do something special. It would be a brilliant achievement to leave here two-all. It would be a monumental effort from this group of players. So there are loads to play for,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Root as saying.

“It would certainly be up there with my greatest achievements as captain. The progress we’ve made over the last couple of years has been really pleasing, especially away from home. If we end up winning this game it’d be four wins out of six Tests on this tour. It would be a phenomenal achievement from the players to have found a way in some very foreign and difficult conditions. So it’s a great motivator for us as a side and I’d be extremely proud of everyone involved if we managed to do that,” he added.

Fit-again Umesh Yadav primed to play 4th Test

India pacer Umesh Yadav is fit again after injuring his calf in Australia, and he could be in action during the fourth and final Test against England. Umesh can replace Jasprit Bumrah, who is out of the fourth Test.

India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday said that the right-arm pace bowler is shaping up well.

“Umesh is ready to go. He is looking really good, bowling really well. He had good sessions in the nets. Really happy that he is back,” Rahane told the media on Tuesday

Squads

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Md. Siraj, Umesh Yadav.

England: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Mark Wood.

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Sagar Biswas

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