Former England captain Nasser Hussain has said that England shouldn’t write off India from making a comeback in the fourth Test. He also cited the example of how India won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia 2-1 in January after being bowled out for 36 in the first Test at Adelaide.
“At Headingley, England swung the ball round corners. Skilful as India’s seam bowlers are they did not swing the ball at all. But the last thing England must do now is think they have done the hard work and write India off ahead of Thursday’s fourth Test in south London and the final match at Old Trafford – grounds which should suit their attack better. Remember, they were bowled out for 36 by Australia in Adelaide late last year but came back to pull off a famous series win. And after Kohli had gone home, too,” wrote Hussain in his column for Daily Mail on Monday.
He added that the warning signs for India’s balance in the playing XI were there before the loss in the third Test at Headingley. “Yes, they won dramatically at Lord’s but England did dominate for chunks of that game and only a mad hour on the last day cost them. India got out of jail. One of Virat Kohli’s big problems has been the balance of his side, and the unlikely tail-end resistance of Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, when England lost the plot, did nothing to change that.”
Hussain mentioned that Rishabh Pant is batting a place high in swinging conditions due to a seam bowling all-rounder’s absence. “Rishabh Pant has looked one place too high at six in English conditions against the Dukes ball, but he has been batting there because of India’s lack of a seam bowling all-rounder. Hardik Pandya might have been the answer but he’s had injuries and his red-ball game has not progressed.”
The 53-year-old believes that Ravichandran Ashwin should be in India’s eleven for the fourth Test at The Oval. “But what India do have is an off-spin bowler ranked No. 2 in the world and a batsman good enough to have made five Test centuries in Ravichandran Ashwin. He should have played at Headingley against England’s five left-handers and he must play at The Oval.”
According to Hussain, India can add another batsman to the top six with Pant pushed to seven. But that would lead to India playing four bowlers which Kohli won’t like.
“So the most likely solution is Ashwin will come in for a seamer, most likely Ishant Sharma who struggled at Headingley, and join Ravindra Jadeja in a more balanced looking side with a deeper batting line-up as long as Jadeja recovers from his knee injury,” said Hussain.
But doing so will not give India an out-and-out swing bowler. “What that does not do, though, is give India a bowler who can swing the ball when conditions dictate, as England did so brilliantly not just with Jimmy Anderson but also Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton. The demise of Bhuvneshwar Kumar has left India short of that type of bowler too, even though Shardul Thakur does swing the ball,” concluded Hussain.
The fourth Test between England and India starts at The Oval on September 2. The five-match Test series is tied at 1-1.