Ahmedabad: India will hope England fail another trial by spin at the Narendra Modi Stadium when Virat Kohli’s side attempt to secure their place in the ICC World Test Championship final.
The tourists won the first match of the series, but back-to-back victories have ended their hopes of facing New Zealand in another final at Lord’s.
In-form India only need to avoid defeat in a fourth and final match of the series, which starts in Ahmedabad on Thursday, with Australia hoping England salvage a 2-2 draw to set up a trans-Tasman showdown.
India won the third Test at the same venue by 10 wickets inside two days to take a 2-1 lead, as England were unable to contend with huge turn generated by the spinners on a much-discussed playing surface.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel wrought havoc to put the side who sit second in the rankings on the verge of the final in London.
Of course, the situation in the series leaves England in the unusual position of trying to do old rivals Australia a favour.
“I wouldn’t see it as that. I would see it as us ending the series as a draw and having done something special in India,” captain Joe Root told reporters.
“Ultimately it is about not having any baggage going into this game. [Winning] would be a monumental effort from this group of players.”
England have kept quiet about the standard of the pitches in the second and third Tests, concentrating on trying to learn from their struggles in such tough conditions.
India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane says the tourists can expect more of the same.
“The wicket will be similar to the third Test match and also the second Test in Chennai. Spinning track.” the batsman said.
He added: “Talk [about the pitch] happening outside is not at all affecting Indian team. We are concentrating on what we have to do. When we tour we never complain about a pitch.”
England to save their Bess for last?
The tourists went with just one frontline spinner in the third Test, with Jack Leach getting the nod ahead of Dom Bess.
Root showed he possibly ought to be more than just a part-time bowler, claiming a stunning maiden five-wicket Test haul with incredible figures of 5-8 as India collapsed to 145 in their first innings.
Bess could join Leach in the team for the last match of the series, having taken five wickets in a first Test that England won by 227 runs and impressed in Sri Lanka.
Key match facts
– India are yet to lose a Test at Narendra Modi Stadium versus England (W2, D1). They have only been beaten twice on the ground in the longest format, winning five and drawing six.
– England have failed to post totals of more than 178 in five of their six innings in the series. The 193 they made combined in two innings in the third Test is the fourth-fewest they have mustered in a Test match when they were bowled out in both knocks.
– Root has only been out twice when playing a conventional or reverse sweep since the start of the Sri Lanka Test tour, scoring 233 runs in the process. The other England batsmen have recorded 206 runs between them over the same period, being dismissed on 12 occasions when deploying those strokes.
– James Anderson has gone 454 deliveries without dismissing Virat Kohli in Test cricket; the India skipper has been dropped three times off his bowling in that time.
– Ashwin has dismissed Ben Stokes on 11 occasions in the longest format, almost twice the number of any other bowler The England all-rounder only averages 18 against the India spinner.