The fifth and final Test between England and India has been clouded in uncertainty ever since another staff member of the Indian contingent tested positive for COVID-19. This forced the visitors to cancel their practice session on the eve of the fifth Test.
However, after all the Indian players have tested negative in the fresh round of RT-PCR tests taken on Thursday, the upcoming fixture at Old Trafford in Manchester starting Friday is set to go ahead as scheduled.
The five-match series is currently poised at 2-1, with India leading the proceedings after winning two matches while the hosts have only managed to register a victory in one game. The first Test ended in a draw.
The pitch at Old Trafford is considered batters friendly, especially in the initial phase of the match. Teams winnings the toss tends to bat first as the average first-innings total at the venue is 435. Spinners also play a big role and come in handy right from Day 3.
Head to Head record (in England):
Matches played: 66 | England won: 35 | India won: 9 | Draw: 22 | Tied: 0
Given the must-win nature of the game, chances are both James Anderson and Ollie Robinson will play despite their heavy workloads in the series. Mark Wood might replace Craig Overton, and since Joe Root made it clear that Jos Buttler will play the final Test, the latter might replace Jonny Bairstow as Ollie Pope proved his mettle in the previous match.
ENG XI: Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood/Craig Overton, James Anderson.
There is still no confirmation whether Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara have recovered from their knee and ankle injuries, respectively. If they are not fit enough, then Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari will replace them.
Given the high stakes, Virat Kohli would not rest Jasprit Bumrah for this game, but Mohammed Siraj might get replaced by Mohammed Shami. Despite assistance for spinners, it’s highly unlikely that India would alter their 4-1 pace-spin combination.
IND XI: Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.
Broadcast and Live Streaming details:
- India: Sony SIX, Sony Ten; SonyLIV
- UK: Sky Sports
- Australia: Fox Cricket
- USA: Willow TV
- New Zealand: Spark Sport