England put in an outstanding 10-session shift at Headingley to beat India by an innings and 76 runs to level the series at 1-1 with two Tests to play.
England had left Lord’s after the second Test in a downbeat mood after being overrun by an Indian team inspired by its captain. Virat Kohli had told his side to unleash hell on England’s batsmen and the hosts duly wilted. Falling short with the bat came after losing the plot in the field. The remaining Tests are perfectly poised and with a bit of needle surfacing between the two sides, it promised to be tremendous theatre.
The Venue: Previous England v India Tests at The Oval
There have been 13 Tests played between the two sides at The Oval with England winning 5 matches, 7 draws, and only 1 victory for the tourists. The teams first met at The Oval in August 1936, but India had to wait until 1971 to claim their only win at the venue, by a four-wicket margin.
The average total on the ground is 320. In 102 Tests played there, England has won 41.18%, the visitors (all tourists) 21.57%, and 36.27% have ended in a draw.
The last time the two teams met at The Oval was on India’s last tour in 2018 and was a win for England as they took the series 4-1. It was also the match that Sir Alastair Cook retired from international cricket with a man of the match display, scoring 71 and 147.
Last Match: 5th Test at The Oval – 7-11 September 2018
England 332 (J Buttler 89, A Cook 71, M Ali 50, R Jadeja 4/79)
India 292 (R Jadeja 86*, H Vihari 56)
England 423-8d (A Cook 147, J Root 125)
India 345 (KL Rahul 149, R Pant 114, J Anderson 3/45)
England won by 118 runs.
Can England follow up the Headingley success with another win?
England has often reserved their best form after a defeat and under critical media glare. And now the challenge for Joe Root’s team is to back up their near-flawless Leeds display that has levelled the series.
Since the start of the 2011 English summer, England has played 40 Test series, including 131 Tests. In that period that has won 57, drawn 28 and lost 46. During that period, they have followed a win with a successive win in the same series on 13 occasions and a defeat on 8. The victory at Headingley was the 9th time in the same period that they have followed a defeat with a win.
Therefore, the feeling that a win always seems to follow a loss and vice versa is far from always true. But of the 13 times, England has notched successive wins, eight have come against India.
But after India was humbled to a first-innings 78 all out in the third Test, Joe Root is expecting India to bounce back. “A world-class side, led by Virat, I would be expecting nothing less than a response,” he admitted. “We’d be naïve to think otherwise. That’s why I think it’s really important that we don’t get too comfortable, we don’t think achieved anything to this point. We’ve just sort of got ourselve6s back to level pegging and we have to now look to work even harder and, if we find ourselves ahead of the game at any stage, we get ruthless again and we really drive that winning position home.”
England high on confidence
England’s top order scored runs at Headingley, Root broke the England captaincy record by securing his 27th win at the helm and James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, and Craig Overton had the India batting line-up on toast.
Root scored his sixth Test century of 2021 to level the record for the most by an England player in a calendar year. And, perhaps most heartening, both Haseeb Hameed (68) and a classy 70 from Dawid Malan, impressed in the top three, the most problematic area for England for years. Even under pressure opener, Rory Burns (61) appeared rejuvenated by the new faces around him.
Robinson took a man of the match seven wickets at Headingley and the returning Overton took six. England is considering giving Jimmy Anderson a breather in London with back-to-back-to-back Tests testing the 39-year-old’s powers of recovery. The conspiracy theorists are running riot with suggestions that Old Trafford has replaced The Oval as the traditional final Test venue to allow Jimmy to bow out of international cricket on his home ground. Surely there is no way he misses the Ashes tour this winter.
Jos Buttler, who has not been in top form with the bat, steps aside on paternity leave and Jonny Bairstow takes the gloves. It also seems likely that fit again Chris Woakes will replace Sam Curran in the XI.
Can India bounce back?
Recency bias on social media led to suggestions that England had this series in the bag after their excellent showing in Leeds. India hasn’t become arguably the best Test team in the world without a hugely competitive spirit. The squad will have been stung by their third Test defeat and Virat Kohli is a man that demands excellence.
That said, there are batting deficiencies against the moving ball, and talismanic Kohli, undoubtedly one of the very best players in the world, is struggling for fluency. Rishabh Pant, one of the X-factor stars is also missing his mojo, but The Oval might be exactly the venue the tourists need to get back on track. The Oval is a good batting wicket and Pant scored a ton there in 2018. Expect India to go toe-to-toe, not give an inch and fight back with the kind of passion Kohli inspires.
Rohit Sharma has been the most impressive of the Indian batsmen with 230 runs at 46.00 in the three Tests in England. He has been incredibly patient and The Oval could become the venue for him to go big.
ENGLAND’S LIKELY XI
Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, and two from Jimmy Anderson, Craig Overton or Mark Wood.
INDIA’S LIKELY XI
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammad Siraj.
THE THREE BEST BETS FOR THE FIRST TEST
- The Draw @ 17/5 with Bet Victor
Big scores and two strong batting line-ups in favourable conditions and a hint of rain possible on days four and five could see the teams heading to Old Trafford still 1-1.6
- Joe Root to be Top England Batsman @ 11/8 with Bet365
Root is so far ahead in terms of pedigree, performance, and confidence. If you’ve been ignoring him because of a short price, you’ve missed a lot of winning bets over the last few months.6
- Rohit Sharma top scorer for India @ 7/2 with Bet365 / Man of the Match @ 12/1 with Bet365
Rohit has been superb as India’s opener and is a good bet for player of the match if India wins.