New Delhi: After a thumping victory at Nottingham, Virat Kohli-led team India will look to carry the momentum and go for the kill at Southampton in the 4th Test to level the series.
India’s biggest strength has undoubtedly been the good form of Virat Kohli, who has already scored two centuries in the ongoing series. The ICC No 1 Test batsman will look to come good for his team at Southampton as well.
The comprehensive win in Nottingham, following a couple of gut-wrenching defeats, gave India hopes of coming from 0-2 down to win a five-match series, something achieved just once in Test history, by a Don Bradman-inspired Australia against England in Ashes 1936/37.
Kohli (5,994) needs six more runs to reach the 6000-run-mark in Test cricket. If he does it, which he will in all likelihood he will breach. He not only has the chance to do that but he will also be in line to breeze past Gundappa Viswanath (6,080) and secure the 9th position on the list.
On the other hand, England, who won their last encounter against India in Southampton by 266 runs, head into the fourth Test fretting over Jonny Bairstow’s fitness.
The wicket-keeper batsman broke a finger during the third Test at Trent Bridge and the hosts are still to consider whether they need to bolster their fallible top order.
If Bairstow is ruled out completely, James Vince is set for an England recall on his home ground, with one-day wicket-keeper Jos Buttler taking over behind the stumps as happened during the third Test.
With a green-top laid out for the fourth Test, India will once again count on their pacers, who exposed the frailties in England top-order and accounted for 38 out of 46 wickets in the series so far.
With the batsmen also finally coming to the party, there is little chance of tinkering with the playing XI.
India have yet to field the same side for two consecutive Tests under Kohli’s captaincy.
But that could change following a dominant display in Nottingham where, for the second match of the series, Kohli scored exactly 200 runs, including a century, having achieved the same feat in the first Test at Edgbaston.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s fitness continues to be a concern for India. He played through a hip stress during the Nottingham Test. So, Ravindra Jadeja has been gearing up with both bat and ball, hoping for a first call-up in this series just in case Ashwin isn’t available at toss time.
Given the conditions, it is presumable that the Indian management will also consider playing an extra batsman if Ashwin misses out. The rest of the batting line-up might be retained, with both Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari waiting in the flanks.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.
England: Joe Root (capt), Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Oliver Pope, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Ben Stokes, James Vince.
Match starts at: 3.30PM IST.