England vs India PreviewJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
England take on India in the 4th Investec Test at Old Trafford with tempers still simmering following the ill-tempered hearing into the James Anderson/Ravindra Jadeja incident.
While egos at the BCCI may have been bruised, the episode seems to have fired up Anderson who turned in a Man of the Match performance in the last Test at The Rose Bowl with match figures of 7-77. He will now be doubly motivated to perform at his home ground starting this Thursday.
With Moeen Ali providing stellar support with his occasional off breaks and the return to form of Captain Alistair Cook, England arrive in Manchester confident and in a far better place than at the start of the series.
Cook’s form in particular will please coach Peter Moores after a disastrous run which put a tremendous amount of pressure on the rest of the team.
For India there are signs that R Ashwin may be drafted into the side for Old Trafford to bolster a bowling attack which has so far lacked a cutting edge. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar recovering from a swollen ankle in time to take the new ball with Mohammed Shami, India’s attack now looks far more impressive.
The other concern for the Indian side will be their approach to Ali, will they look to play him with attacking intent and transfer pressure back onto the likes of Anderson, Broad and Woakes, or do they play safe and rotate the strike?
It is no secret that the Indian side, so renowned for their footwork to the slower bowlers, were embarrassed by Ali’s success and will be out to prove a point.
For India to put the kinds of runs on the board that will intimidate the England line-up, they need their big guns, in particular Virat Kohli, to show greater patience, occupy the crease for longer periods and tire the England attack.
Whether they can do this on a hard, grassy pitch at Old Trafford remains to be seen. The winner of this game will take an unassailable lead in the series and both Captains are desperate to do well.