• Friday, December 19, 2014

Freedom in the air

India await Ishant return

Final Test at The Oval starts today

Afp, London

Had India, who've now won just one of their last 18 Tests on foreign soil, been offered the chance to arrive at The Oval 2-1 down with one to play in this five-match series before their tour started, they might have taken up the offer.
A tightly-packed schedule of five Tests in the space of 42 days has done India few favours as they head to south London for the start of the series finale on Friday.
Just a few weeks ago, India beat England by 95 runs in the second Test at Lord's to go 1-0 up in the series.
But that success was sealed by fast bowler Ishant Sharma exploiting England's vulnerability against the short ball with a Test-best return of seven for 74.
Since then Sharma has missed both India's 266-run defeat in the third Test at Southampton and their even more crushing innings and 54-run loss in the fourth Test at Old Trafford last week with a leg injury.
However, India are increasingly optimistic he could return to action in the fifth Test.
Despite losing inside three days in Manchester, India did again make England's batsmen look decidedly jumpy when confronted with the short ball to the extent that all-rounder Stuart Broad suffered a broken nose trying to hook Varun Aaron when the ball found its way between the peak of his helmet and the grille.


But the Oval is not the fast pitch it once was or indeed Old Trafford currently is.
If it stays true to recent type, a slow low surface should remind India of home but will also make the job of 'bouncing out' England that much more difficult.
The biggest recent problem for an India side coached by former England boss Duncan Fletcher has been their batting, as exemplified by the team's struggles to barely get beyond 150 in both innings at Old Trafford.
No one has exemplified their batting difficulties better than the talented Virat Kohli, who has so far scored only 108 runs this series at an average of 13.5.
But it was the manner of India's collapse, which saw nine wickets lost after tea on Saturday that was perhaps the most concerning aspect of the Old Trafford debacle.
"There were was no backbone shown by India," former Indian opening great Sunil Gavaskar told BBC Radio's Test Match Special as he reflected on the humbling loss.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, August 15, 2014

Leave your comments | Comment Policy
eDaily Star
BIT DEFENDER