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Should India bring in Ashwin and Vihari for 4th Test?

By HARISH KOTIAN
August 30, 2021 07:38 IST
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Ravichandran Ashwin

IMAGE: Senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was not picked for the first three Tests against England. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
 

It was one of their worst performances in Test cricket in recent times as India crashed to an innings and 76 run defeat against England in the third Test at Headingley.

India's batting flopped big time as they were bowled out for 78 after electing to bat first and didn't fare much better in the second innings when the wicket had eased out as they managed just 278.

The Indian bowlers also failed to make an impression with England running away to a huge first innings score of 432, taking a decisive first innings lead of 354 runs.

There are several areas of concern which India needs to address going into the fourth Test at The Oval in London, starting on Thursday, Septeber 2.

Opener K L Rahul failed in both innings, but his good showing in the first two games will ensure he retains his place.

Vice-Captain Ajinkya Rahane's form is a major worry as he scored just 28 runs in the two innings at Leeds, both times perishing caught behind off the England pace bowlers.

Time could be running out for Rahane with his 61 at Lord's the only time he has got beyond 20 in five innings in the series so far.

India could bring in Hanuma Vihari, who could chip with a few overs of off-spin on The Oval wicket, which has traditionally provided some assistance to the spin bowlers.

Dilip Vengsarkar, who has a fine record against England in England, believes India must pick Suryakumar Yadav to boost the middle order.

With Rishabh Pant being a major disappointment with the bat, could Captain Virat Kohli and Head Coach Ravi Shastri opt for Wriddhiman Saha, arguably the world's best Test wicket-keeper and a gritty batsman?

In the bowling department, it would be a surprise if Ishant Sharma keeps his place after his lacklustre showing in the third Test. Not only did the senior pro fail to bag any wickets, but also conceded more than four runs per over, for 92 runs in his 22 overs as he struggled with his rhythm.

With Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav waiting in the wings, India will likely leave out Ishant for the crucial fourth Test which could well decide the course of the five-match series.

Ravindra Jadeja also seems doubtful for the Oval Test after injuring his knee during the Leeds Test while fielding and was taken to hospital for scans after the match on Saturday.

Even if he is fit, India may bring in senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who has been surprisingly left out of the first three games. In addition to Ashwin, Indian could play left-arm spinner Axar Patel who ran through England during the Tests at home earlier this year.

Kohli was admant after the Leeds Test that Indi would stick to the five bowler strategy, which he says gives them a good chance of winning Test matches overseas.

'I don't believe in that balance (playing six specialist batsmen) and I have never believed in that balance because either you can try and save a defeat or you can try and win a game. And we have drawn games in the past with similar number of batters,' he said.

Who do you think should be part of India's playing XI in the fourth Test against England?

Please select your team from the list and do post your playing XI in the message board below.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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