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England v India: Fifth Test preview

Nearly 10 months after it was supposed to be played, we are finally set to get the fifth and final Test of the England v India series.

The original match, due to be played at Old Trafford last September, was postponed just hours before the start of play with a heavy-handedness that meant supporters paid the price.

But that was then and this is now, and we shouldn’t let that frustration lessen our excitement for what promises to be a phenomenal contest.

There was plenty of bite in last summer’s series between these two sides and though lots has changed over the past 10 months or so, both sides’ determination to get a result has not.

The state of play

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First things first, it’s important to remind ourselves where we left things. England trail 2-1 in the series ahead of the fifth and final Test, having fallen to defeats in the second and fourth matches but claimed an innings and 76-run victory in the third.

Joe Root leads the run charts with a ridiculous 564 @ 94 (some things don’t change) with Rohit Sharma, 368 @ 52.57, and KL Rahul, 315 @ 39.37, trailing him.

Leading wicket-taker Ollie Robinson, 21 @ 21.33, will not be involved but Jasprit Bumrah, 18 @ 20.83, and Jimmy Anderson, 15 @ 24.66, will almost certainly have a major role to play.

It’ll be Edgbaston and not Old Trafford that hosts the series finale now, with India trying to hold out for a first victory on English soil since 2007 and their hosts hoping to salvage a draw.

England flying due to Bazball

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There can be no denying that England are the team that have changed the most in the time between the fourth and fifth Test, with Joe Root replaced by Ben Stokes as captain and new coach Brendan McCullum beginning his Bazball revolution.

You’ll no doubt have been watching over the past month or so but England claimed a whitewash victory over New Zealand via three of the biggest fourth innings chases in their history – with the new front-foot and positive approach leaving confidence sky-high.

Root continues to churn out runs at a frightening rate, as he did last summer, and Jonny Bairstow has been in godlike form in recent weeks while Ollie Pope has been showing his quality

The Alex Lees and Zak Crawley partnership is still starting to develop but the former looks like a weight has been taken off his shoulder while Stokesy has made it clear that the latter has his team’s full backing – and rightfully so as we all know what a talent he is.

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Ben Foakes was impressive too against New Zealand but misses out due to illness with Sam Billings set to take the gloves in a Test in England for the first time. Good things really do come to those who wait.

Jamie Overton gave a fantastic showing in his debut but he drops out to allow Jimmy to return to a bowling attacking that includes his partner in crime Stuart Broad, fantastic youngster Matthew Potts, and Jack Leach fresh off the first 10-wicket game of his career.

Oh, and don’t forget the captain – the world’s greatest all-rounder.

Confirmed XI: Lees, Crawley, Pope, Root, Bairstow, Stokes (c), Billings, Leach, Potts, Broad, Anderson

Jasprit Bumrah’s India

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Overall there has been less of a shift over the past year for India, though Virat Kohli is no longer in the big job, but they’ve had difficult preparations for this one.

They have confirmed that they will be without skipper Rohit Sharma and his opening partner KL Rahul, who is also the vice-captain.

That means Jasprit Bumrah will captain his country for the first time and become the first fast bowler to do it since Kapil Dev.

There’s no Ishant Sharma, of course, after his retirement but a bowling attacking that includes Shakul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, and Bumrah should enjoy being back in English conditions.

Edgbaston is unlikely to be a bunsen burner and that could mean that Ravi Ashwin sits out with all-rounder Ravi Jadeja the spin option.

If both openers are indeed missing them Shubman Gill and Hanuma Vihari may take their place with the experience of Cheteshwar Pujara back at number three.

India are in search of a first Test series win in England since 2007 when their current coach Rahul Dravid was the skipper. His expertise is going to be vital if they’re to do it, particularly if Sharma does not return.

Predicted XI: Vihari, Gill, Pujara, Kohli, Iyer, Pant, Jadeja, Thakur, Shami, Bumrah (c), Siraj

Prediction

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India are searching for a first series win in England since 2007 so though some of the bite from last summer may not be there, this will be a hard-fought contest.

Can the tourists really stop Bazball? We don’t think so. England win.