England v India, 4th npower Test, The Oval August 17, 2011

England hunt whitewash, India need pride


Match Facts

August 18-22, The Oval
Start time 11.00 (1000GMT)

The Big Picture

England celebrated reaching No. 1 in the world with a good night in Birmingham on Sunday but it was soon back to the day job and, four days later, they already face the first test of their new status. The 'dead rubber syndrome' is always a risk when a team has scaled such heights to secure a major goal and Andrew Strauss will be desperate that nothing takes the gloss off the achievements of the last month.

In truth it will take a lot to remove the after-glow of three commanding performances, but this England team are never satisfied. They'll see this final Test at The Oval as a chance to lay down another marker with a show of hunger and desire. Even the great Australian sides under Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh had issues with keeping intensity high when a series was decided. England benefited with a number of one-off Test victories and won't want to offer India a similar opportunity.

It's difficult to see India bouncing back to save face over the next five days. They have been so far off the pace that this is a series they'll want to consign to history as quickly as possible. That, though, will be easier said than done with the fall-out well under way back at home and serious questions being asked of the team. Some of those questions are more sensible than others, but a number of players will be heading back with damaged reputations.

The much-vaunted batting line-up have one more chance to live up to their billing having not reached 300 in the series. The wait goes on for Sachin Tendulkar's 100th hundred, while Gautam Gambhir has disappointed and VVS Laxman hasn't made the most of some decent form. Then there's the challenge of taking 20 wickets. The pace bowlers have all had their moments but, collectively, have not been able to sustain pressure on England.

Praveen Kumar has been a tireless workhorse and Ishant Sharma has kept running in, but they have suffered from not having an economical spinner to tie up an end. If Oval history is anything to go by they could be in for more hard toil.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

England WWWDD

Watch out for...

It's been a mark of how dominant England's quick bowlers have been that Graeme Swann has been able to get away with his least productive Test series. He bowled nicely at Lord's but conditions haven't been in his favour and he struggled after being hit on the left hand at Trent Bridge, and it would complete the series perfectly if he could play a key role here. It would also quieten talk that he has a weakness against batsmen who attack him - like Mike Hussey did during the Ashes - and with a winter of cricket in the Middle East and subcontinent England will want their premier spinner at the top of his game again.

Sachin Tendulkar has been given a standing ovation every time he has walked to the crease and on most occasions when he's walked back. The problem has been that on none of those occasions as he had a hundred to his name. Even taking into account Tendulkar's lack of match practice before this series - not so much preparation time as he spent hours training at Lord's - and the strength of England's attack a top-score of 56 is still a major surprise. Credit for that goes mainly to the bowlers, especially James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but as India crumbled in the second innings at Edgbaston Tendulkar eased to 40 before being run-out backing up. The series needs a Tendulkar special.

Team news

With Jonathan Trott and Chris Tremlett again ruled out the only question mark surrounds James Anderson's fitness. He came through a net session on Wednesday and the talk was positive from the England camp. Steven Finn and Graham Onions remain on standby should he be ruled out. Ravi Bopara, meanwhile, keeps his spot at No. 6 but pressure is growing on him to secure a place on the winter tour.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson

Praveen Kumar took a nasty blow on the thumb at Edgbaston and India were unsure about his fitness during training on Wednesday although he bowled a lengthy spell. RP Singh, who impressed on the 2007 tour, could come into the line-up, and he might play even if Praveen is fit with Sreesanth under pressure. A twin-spin attack including Pragyan Ojha is an outside chance, but Ojha could also pressure Amit Mishra. Meanwhile, Suresh Raina has been sorted out by the England bowlers but may retain his place ahead of Virat Kohli.

India (possible) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (c) (wk), 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Praveen Kumar/RP Singh, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Sreesanth

Pitch and conditions

A typical Oval pitch is expected (not the crumbling-type surface produced for the 2009 Ashes) which should mean a chance for the batsmen to dominate, something only England's have done so far in this series. There is a chance of some rain on Thursday but the weather is due to clear up after that until a chance of showers later in the weekend.

Stats and trivia

  • Sachin Tendulkar is in danger of enduring one of the worst series in his career. Currently, his average of 26.50 is his fourth lowest in series of three or more Tests.

  • Even if England win this Test and take the series 4-0 they will lose their No. 1 ranking if South Africa win all their five Tests against Australia and Sri Lanka before Christmas

  • Tim Bresnan is aiming to make it 10 Test victories from 10 matches played

For a full stats preview click here


"We're desperate to finish the summer on a high. The work ethic over the last couple of days has been good and encouraging and I'd be very disappointed if we took our foot off the gas."
Andrew Strauss knows that it's hard work that has brought England this far, and will push his team to end the Test series on a triumphant note

"We will stick to our game plan and hopefully it'll reflect in our performance. This is a sport, we go through tough times. It's challenges that make life interesting."
MS Dhoni remains typically philosophical ahead of the final match of what has been a very challenging tour for India

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on August 19, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    @Reuban Xavier;"If England can perform in this same level outside England, then only we can be afraid of this england team.. But I dont think this would happen" AND @Madhu Vamsi;"I agree with you and England has to prove that they are dangerous outside the England. That is yet to happen". What BREATAKINGLY RIDICULOUS COMMENTS! Why don't you two look up the 2010-11 England in Australia (The Ashes) series in cricinfo. Tell you what - I'll save you the effort; it was played in Australia and England were outside of England playing the entire series in Australia. England won THREE Tests by an INNINGS and won the series 3-1. That was in Australia, not in England. So, now that it has been shown that England already have performed to this level outside England and in fact are extremely dangerous outside of England will you please do better research before you make such silly ill-informed comments. It is india that cannot perform outside of home - this current series proves it.

  • dasharath on August 18, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    Indian players please come back to ur champ positions. now england should come to know how champions come back to their positions. Come India.... Jai hind !!

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2011, 10:41 GMT

    @Mohamed Ayjaz don't post without sense..you cant judge a team just using last series..India had hold its no1 ranking for last 2.5yrs,dont forget it..India will surely bounce back and you will see that...another important thing is,you are the one NOT DESERVED TO TALK ABOUT world champions...

  • Chakram on August 18, 2011, 9:59 GMT

    Why is Ashwin not included in the squad? He has proved his stance in IPL. Also Abhinav has at least attempted a 50 which Gambhir / Raina hasn't. So we should try him again in the final test.

  • Manraj on August 18, 2011, 9:39 GMT

    @Rueben Xavier - In all seriousness, if this is the way that India prepare for a test series, never mind THE test series in which they potentially could (and did) lose their No 1 ranking, then they have no claim to be the No 1 test side in international cricket. I understand how frustrated, angry, blah, blah blah, blah, all the India fans and supporters must be, but everyone must remember that no matter where they played, England have beaten the NO 1 TEAM to get to where they are now. And hats off to the Indian fans who have been positive and applauded the new No 1. They have been gracious in defeat and IMHO, are a credit to India in particular and to the game of cricket in general.

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    This Indian team is out of focus, nobody in the team is playing serious cricket. This team suffering from success phobia. Its fame and money hard to digest and this is what is getting at them. This team with the current attitude does not deserve the No.1 sport. They won the world cup and think they have achieved everything but if they are not consistent in your performance it is an insult for the WORLD CUP itself. It is the attitude which makes the difference……..

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    So, INDIA still not able to decide whom to get in. I strongly recommend India to drop Raina for a match and get Kohli in and also go with two spinners as they do lot of time, who knows what happens. Dada did this many times irrespective of pitch conditions. He never took either Anil or Bhaji, now Dhoni should take both as there would be little sigh of relief on both. R P should be played here. He is an outstanding bowler in foreign tours than in India. Drop Sreesanth he is definitely inconsistent. I don't know why they give these many chances. Many players can get in instead of him. Go for Munaf instead of Ishanth or PK. PK is tired now and Ishanth get go for another one he has good pace. Sehwag must fire here, he thrashed hopes of every Indian fan by getting out twice for a duck in the very first ball of last test. Just for an experimentation, why don't Dhoni come up the order. Something new.. Never do it, Dhoni may come as 6 and Raina as 7.

  • dasharath on August 18, 2011, 9:07 GMT

    Indian players please come back to ur champ positions. now england should come to know how champions come back to their positions. Come India.... Jai hind !!

  • dasharath on August 18, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    to my concern.. lets forget abt the past wining... play the game as if your playing to

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    I feel Mukund should come in place of Raina. Mukund & Gambhir open the innings and drop sehwag to no. 5 or 6 where he likes to play. Mukund is technically better than Sehwag in seeing the new ball in English conditions. Replace sreeshanth or praveen with RP Singh. My playing 11 is, Mukund, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Sehwag, Laxman, Dhoni, Mishra, Praveen, Ishant, RP. All the best India...

  • No featured comments at the moment.