Date: September 10-14, 2021
Time: Every match day 3:30 PM (IST) onwards
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
England will face India in the fifth and final Test of the series commencing from Friday, September 10 at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester. India are already 2-1 up in the series and will head into this match with a lot of confidence as well as assurance that they won't be losing the series from here. The onus will thus be on the England team to try and push for a result and somehow manage to draw the series since it would otherwise mean a second successive Test series defeat at home for the Three Lions after they lost to New Zealand earlier in the year.
England will have to focus on the positives from the match but at the same time work on what is going wrong. In both the Test matches that they lost, the home team were at a comfortable position and should have either won the match or managed to draw the game. While India had asked England to bat after lunch on Day 5 and they failed to survive less than two sessions at Lord's, they were looking good and had scored 131/2 at Lunch on Day 5 at Oval but were bundled out under pressure for 210.
Clearly, it is about nerves more than skills. Their batters also tend to step up and take some load off captain Joe Root who has literally been one of the lone warriors with the bat for them. If England can work on these few issues, there is no reason why they can't come back to spoil India's party and draw the series. They had already done that once in the series but with India's tail up more than ever before, it could be slightly more challenging this time around.
Head to Head:
England won: 49
India won: 31
In a desperate attempt to win the fifth Test match, England have recalled Jos Buttler and Jack Leach to their Test squad for the fifth Test match against India. Leach, who gives England a second spin option alongside off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali, hasn't played a Test since March after taking 28 wickets in six matches in tour of Sri Lanka and India. Buttler was out of the fourth Test due to a paternity break. England may also rest Anderson for the final Test after featuring in four back-to-back Test matches in quick succession.
India may give someone like Ajinkya Rahane a break who has not looked in good nick at all. Meanwhile, a pacer may also be rested in a long series. Can they afford to rest Jasprit Bumrah though could well be the question that may be bothering the team management and Mohammed Shami is likely to make a comeback after being rested for the fourth Test match. Both Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara should be fit for the final Test match. Ravichandran Ashwin may well have to continue to warm the benches and may only be seen in IPL 2021 next.
Players to watch out for
For all the awards and recognition that a cricketer can get, Rohit Sharma has earned all except perhaps two - a 50-Overs World Cup and Test match glory. It was no wonder then that he scored five centuries in the 2019 Cricket World Cup as he desperately wanted to lift the World Cup after missing out on a squad in the 2011 World Cup. Even in Test match cricket, he is ready to grind it out and prove himself. In the eight innings in the Test series so far, Rohit has faced over a hundred balls in five of them, even facing more than 250 balls for his first overseas hundred. He will yet again be the key when India turn up in Manchester.
Haseen Hameed will now look to convert the starts that he has been getting into a hundred to make Root known that he isn't the only one fighting for his team with the bat in hand. He is a highly rated first-class batter but needs to score big and consistently to help his team to win the Test and save the series from here. Apart from Joe Root, Hammed could be the big wicket India would hope to get early.
Probable Playing XI
Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow (wk)/Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson/Mark Wood
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav /Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj/Mohammed Shami