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Manchester [UK], September 9 (ANI): Having registered an emphatic 157-run win in the fourth Test against England, Virat Kohli and boys would now have their eyes firmly set on winning the final Test at Manchester to complete a comprehensive 3-1 series win over the Three Lions.
Heading into the final Test, it is safe to say that the visitors are firm favourites and England is left to do with all the heavy lifting in terms of picking the best possible 11. India's batting which has been under fire throughout the series, showed signs of revival in the second innings of the Oval Test and everyone chipped in with handy contributions except vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane.
So on the eve of the Test, it is debatable whether the team management will take the call of dropping the vice-captain for such a crucial game. It is not like this has not happened in the past as Rahane was dropped in 2018 for the first and second Test against South Africa. However, batting coach Vikram Rathour had suggested that team management is not concerned with Rahane's form as of yet.
If Rahane is indeed dropped, the most likely person to take his place is Suryakumar Yadav. However, the right-handed batsman has not played a Test yet so it needs to be seen whether team management wants to go with Suryakumar in place of Rahane for such a crucial match. Hanuma Vihari too is a possible replacement.
The bowling department has been on fire for the visitors and the Oval Test showed that even if the conditions are not assisting much, Indian seamers can rattle the opposition with reverse swing. However, Jasprit Bumrah has played all four Tests so far and looking at the hectic schedule ahead (IPL, T20 World Cup), one needs to look at whether he can be rested for the final Test to give him some respite and cooling off period.
Mohammed Shami was rested for the fourth Test so if Bumrah is indeed rested for the final match, then Shami is the most likely to take his place. Ravichandran Ashwin has not played a single Test this series and now it looks highly unlikely that he would get a chance at Manchester, looking at how Ravindra Jadeja bowled in the second innings of the Oval Test.
Talking about hosts England, Jos Buttler will be donning the wicketkeeping-gloves, and hence only one of Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow will feature in the playing XI. England also has a headache of whether to play both James Anderson and Ollie Robinson looking at their workload.
Mark Wood is fit for the fifth and final Test, and hence it needs to be seen whether England want to go for someone who can rattle the opposition through pace and bounce. (ANI)