5th Test: Five things India need to do to level series against England
After beginning the five-match series on a confident note, the Indian cricket team has let the momentum drift away towards England, who have taken an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series.
While the hosts would leave no stone unturned in trying their best to win the 5th Test and the series, here are five things MS Dhoni needs to do to salvage pride against the Poms in yet another overseas tour.
Drop Ravindra Jadeja: Ravindra Jadeja might have done wonders for MS Dhoni in limited-overs cricket, including the Indian Premier League, but the southpaw lacks the technique to be a Test all-arounder, especially on overseas tours. When Australia toured India last time around, Jadeja bowled some brilliant spells, and also dismissed Michael Clarke in five out of his six innings. But in the last few Test series – in South Africa, New Zealand and England - he has looked like a mediocre bowler. Under precarious circumstances, he has failed to stitch partnerships lower down the order and has been dismissed trying to counter-attack when the situation demanded him to stay at the crease.
Recall Stuart Binny: In Test matches, a team should be comprised of batsmen, who have an unflappable temperament to stay at the wicket for as long as possible. Considering the options he has, MS Dhoni needs to show more faith in someone like Stuart Binny. India should play Binny as a batsman who can bowl a bit, rather than expecting him to perform the role of a bowling all-rounder. Given the limited opportunities he has got in the series, Binny played a match-saving 78-run knock in the first Test at Nottingham. The Karnataka all-rounder has a far better technique than Jadeja, who is yet to overcome the ODI mindset.
Play four seamers: After the historic win at Lord`s, one of the major reasons why India loosened their grip over the series, was MS Dhoni`s decision to play three seamers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who had performed extremely well with the bat and the bowl in the first two Tests, looked out of rhythm at times, and also fatigued considering he was expected to deliver every now and then. While chances of Ishwar Pandey making his Test debut are unlikely, Dhoni should hit the field in the last Test with Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Mohammed Shami and Pankaj Singh.
Attack Moeen Ali: Indian batsmen, considered to be the best players of spin, have thrown away their wickets to Moeen Ali, whose spin bowling has come as a huge sigh of relief for Alastair Cook. The approach of the Indian batsmen against Ali has been disappointing, as the 27-year-old hasn`t spun the ball too much. He is no Graeme Swann or Monty Panesar, thus the Indian batsmen should use their feet against him to disrupt his rhythm.
Improve fielding: Just like some of the star Indian batsmen, even established English cricketers were finding it difficult to score big knocks. Despite poor batting and bowling, another reason why India are trailing 1-2 in the series is the standard of their fielding. Had Jadeja caught skipper Cook while he was batting on 15 in the fourth Test, it could have possibly once again put India in the driver`s seat. Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, two of the better fielders in the Indian squad, too have let plenty of chances slip away. Indian fielders will certainly have to pull off their socks, and forget dropping sitters, they will have to convert half-chances to pull off a victory at the Oval.