FINALE – SOUTH OF THE RIVER

So England have secured victory in their test series against India. As mentioned in my previous blog, Moeen Ali inspired the win with 9 Indian wickets (including a five for in the 1st innings) to secure a 60 run victory. Their 3-1 lead, with just one test to come at The Oval, starting this Friday (7th September) is now unassailable. A fantastic series in which both sides won a match with a thrashing, but in the 2 tight matches at Edgbaston and The Ageas Bowl, England prevailed as India fell short in run chases.

ENGLAND

Whilst the hosts character cannot be questioned, what can is their weak ‘caplyso collaspso’ batting. Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings have been awful as the openers through the series, Root was moved up to bat 3 this summer, even though he prefers to bat at 4 and Jonny Bairstow has now hit some poor form with 2 golden ducks in his last 3 innings. Jos Buttler has done well with a century and runs at key moments, Ben Stokes has had more important things to worry about this summer so his in out form can be excused, but it could easily be assessed that newcomer Sam Curran has shown the greatest aptitude, patience and technique through the series. His batting was key in winning the 2 tight tests and don’t forget he was dropped for their thrashing at Trent Bridge. As we stand, he is no doubt already England’s man of the series.

INDIA

India as the number one test team in the world were desperate to show they can win series away from home, and to be fair to them it has been a case of what ifs for me. They couldn’t chase down 194 and 245 in the 1st and 4th tests respectively and that is the difference. In both of them they collapsed after losing Virat Kohli as well as losing early wickets in quick time. Their pace attack has been outstanding this series, but their batting has been a huge let down, their captain apart. Their lack of warm up matches has been massive for me as they have improved as a team as the series as gone on and if they had had more time to get used to the English conditions, I have no doubt they could have been in the position England are in as the hosts are most definitely vulnerable. Obvious issues for the tourists relate to scheduling, something I don’t really understand as surely winning the series has to be the most important aim, so preparation and due diligence should go into making sure that is the case. Clearly it wasn’t here, no matter what their hierarchy say.

TEST NUMBER 5

With the series over, in regards of who will win it, there will be less at stake when both sides rock up at The Oval, however they will want to end the series on a high. The tourists won’t want to be on the end of a 4-1 beating and will be doing their upmost to leave these shores on a positive note. There is talk of 18 year Prithvi Shaw coming in at the top of the order, though Kohli did express satisfaction from the team that took the field in Southampton. England’s problems as mentioned is their batting. Root batted at 4 during the 2nd innings at the Ageas Bowl, which suggests that is where he will now bat, so a number 3 is needed to fill the gap. With Cook now announcing his retirement from international cricket and the same squad being named for the test, Jennings has a great opportunity to secure a place on the winter tours, though it is likely this is a last chance saloon for the Lancashire batsman.

PREDICTION

Well I predicted 3-1 England for the series, so I probably want a wash out. But with both teams really having nothing to lose and with the weather set fair as we stand, I can see a result for one of the teams being the outcome. I actually feel England will be very focused going into this game, as even though they are 3-1 they have attracted criticism throughout their test summer, let alone this series. Joe Root will want his team to make a real statement and tell the world that England take the long form game seriously. I can see a joyous home victory and a flattering 4-1 series score for the hosts.

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