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India v England 4th Test Preview: Captains in the Limelight

Nine days after India won in Mohali to guarantee they can’t lose the 5 match test series against England, here we are on the brink of the 4th Test Match – 9 days felt like forever. The Wankhede has historically been mixed for India in tests; India lost their two previous tests here against England. However, momentum is undoubtedly on India’s side after comprehensive wins in Vizag and Mohali.

 Much of the pre-match talk revolves around the two captains yet again – Cook is likely to open the innings with Keaton Jennings, his 11th opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012! Lack of consistency has hurt the English top order, and just when they thought they’d found a potential long term option in the young but gritty Hameed, he has had to fly home with an injury. Jennings has had an outstanding domestic season, and will be excited at the prospect of making his debut in Mumbai. Perhaps his dad Ray Jennings (former SA coach) will have given him some tips on how to deal with the Indian spinners.

Inevitably, there is talk of the end of Cook’s career as captain. 55 tests as captain over the last 4 years is more than anyone else and Cook has previously hinted at potentially stepping down to focus on his batting. He’s had a forgettable time against both Bangladesh and India as captain and his batting has been a notch below expectations. Root is seen by many as the next English test leader and we do think he will bring a youth and energy to his side (just the way Virat has to India).

Kohli, meanwhile, seems like he wants to be the Grinch who stole England’s Christmas – he publicly criticized both their recent holiday in Dubai as well as the 25-day gap between the Tests and ODIs (his bigger objection is with the latter). Kohli highlighted the scheduling, asserting that if England gets a break between away tests and ODI series, India deserves the same while touring. With India looking to drive the momentum home and break the English spirit, Kohli might have a point – a nice break allows England to re-group after a tough test series but his comments on the eve of the 4th test are most likely to be mind games than anything else. 

Finally, we must talk about team selection. For England, the one obvious change is that Jennings will come in for the injured Haseeb. Woakes impressed in the last game, and Buttler is likely to maintain his spot too, so the only other change may come in form of Broad, if his foot injury forces England to bring in Finn. For India, Rahane’s injury eases some selection woes – KL Rahul is back (from injury and a weak outing in the first test) and has generally been in stellar form this year, well deserving of a spot in the 11. Parthiv’s strong showing in his only test so far as well suggests he will maintain his spot, and Karun didn’t really get an opportunity, being run out by the skipper in his only innings. Rahul in for Rahane should be India’s only change.

 Some strong English batting in Rajkot ruined our 5-0 prediction, but on the eve of the 4th test, 1 Tip 1 Hand is still confidently calling this series as 4-0 to India!

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