It has been pretty quiet over the last few days. A young Lions team has been playing in the UAE, and many observers are still purring over Haseeb Hameed’s rapid rise from embryo to test opener, but that’s about it. I guess this is the calm before the storm – the storm being the 4th test in Mumbai. Well, I doubt it’s going to be a breeze.
It’s a bit too early to tell what the pitch is going to be like, but I suspect it will be a good cricket wicket – much like the one in Mohali. There will be some turn – albeit nothing too dramatic – and batsmen will be able to make runs if they play well. Unfortunately, in England’s case this is a big ‘if’. Hopefully a few days off will make all the difference and our batsmen won’t make so many mental errors in Mumbai.
Although I’m normally pessimistic about England’s chances in the subcontinent, I actually think we’ll be competitive in this next match. Although we’re two nil down, batting poorly and ravaged by injury, I just have a sneaking feeling we’ll be ok. Why? Because it’s Mumbai, a ground we’ve done well at in the recent past, and I’m a bit of a romantic.
The bookies might think I’m mad – they have India at 1.45 and England at 4.80 (odds by CrownBet) – but this time I’m going to let my heart rule my head. Who’s to say that Joe Root won’t do a Kevin Pietersen and play the innings of his life? Cricket is an individual sport and England still have enough match winners to unexpectedly pull something out of a turban or taqiyah.
England’s team selection will be key. If Trevor Bayliss insists on picking Liam Dawson then the Twittersphere (not to mention this blog) is likely to explode. Unless it’s an absolute Bunsen – by which I mean even a collective of Eddie Hemmings, John Childs, Mike Watkinson and Peter Such would be unplayable – England must rely on the seamers. Moeen and Rashid are the only spinners we need. There’s no need for a third one.
In terms of the batting line up it’s a case of last man standing. Keaton Jennings will come into the side to open with Cook – no doubt our antipodean cousins will relish the fact that he’s another South African playing for England – and Jos Buttler will retain his place simply because there’s nobody else. Gary Ballance and Ben Duckett are basically unselectable at this point.
I’d be interested to know how you guys think this test match will go. Although India have the momentum, and my heads tells me that 0-4 is probably inevitable, England haven’t been steamrollered in a series for a long, long time – well, at least not since Bayliss and Farbrace steadied the ship. Perhaps Mumbai will be the beginning of an impressive fight back? We just need to put first innings runs on the board.
Over to you Joe, Alastair and Jonny.
Written in collaboration with CrownBet