England and India take each other on in the fifth and final Test match at The Oval, with England’s thrilling victory at the Ageas Bowl meaning they’ve already won the series. Virat Kohli and Co will be keen to avenge that loss and make the deficit as fine as possible.
Series win masks English concerns
Don’t get me wrong, England have, on the whole, been the better side in this series and probably deserve to win it. They’ve won the key moments in the first four games and it’s those moments which have ultimately decided the series.
However, this series win has been largely down to the lower/middle order who have got their side out of trouble time and time again. Sam Curran has been a revelation, while Moeen Ali’s timely return to form with the ball has given England’s attack an added dimension. Chris Woakes’ maiden Test ton was imperative at Lords and Ben Stokes showed his importance to the side at the Ageas Bowl.
As well as these guys have done, England’s top order has once again failed to convince and with the imminent retirement of Alastair Cook, serious doubts remain over England’s top five scoring the big runs required to win at the top level. Keaton Jennings has looked like a rabbit in the headlights since his return to the side, while Joe Root still seems to be struggling to balance captaincy duties with run scoring.
Kohli’s men aiming to bounce back despite series defeat
Like their English counterparts, a lack of consistent runs from India’s top order has really cost them in this series. Bar a hundred from Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli’s continued brilliance, India’s batsman haven’t acquitted themselves well enough in the English conditions and have regularly found themselves two or three wickets down for not many runs.
Despite losing the series, Kohli has silenced all doubters who claimed he wasn’t the complete batsman. He has scored 544 runs so far at an average of just under 70 and if hadn’t been for his brilliance throughout the series, India could have easily suffered a series whitewash.
The Indians are the 15/8 outsiders for the final Test at the Oval.
Captain could be set to star in series finale
Since taking over as captain, it’s fair to say Joe Root’s runs have dried up significantly, with just two hundreds since the start of 2017. A lot of captains struggle with the burden of captaining their country as well as scoring runs, but you feel Root is due a big one soon and it could come at the Oval.
He averages just shy of 50 at the venue and he looked in decent nick at the Ageas Bowl when scoring 48 in the second innings. The pressure is somewhat off him now his side have won the series and I’m expecting him to cap off the series in style with a big show in the first innings.
With Cook’s departure, Root must step up and prove he’s still the run machine that we all hope he is. Back the England skipper to hit is way back into form and be the top 1st innings run scorer at 6/1.