India will be looking to tie things up when they take to Headingley Stadium to face England in what is the last meeting of the five game test series. India have struggled on foreign soil over their last few test matches, having won just one (coming against England earlier in the series) of their last 18 and they will no doubt look to finish on a high.
For Alastair Cook, however, it is a case of finishing the job after navigating his side to a dramatic comeback in recent weeks, turning the series on its head from 1-0 down to leading 2-1 going into this game. Cook will be buoyed in his efforts with the news that Stuart Broad returned to training on Thursday afternoon – completing a full net session despite wearing a splint to protect his broken nose, which was initially feared would rule him out of the contest.
Elsewhere in the batting line-up, James Anderson is likely to be firing on all cylinders considering he is now just eight wickets away from usurping Ian Botham as England’s all-time leading wicket taker. ‘Beefy’ stands at a total of 383 wickets taken, but with Anderson now cleared of breaching the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct, he will no doubt have his mind back on track as he looks to take more dismissals. Despite admitting the incident played on his mind throughout the last test, Anderson did emerge from the contest as the leading wicket taker of the series, having taken 21 so far.
England had failed to record a win in as many as ten test matches without a win prior to victory in Southampton to tie up the scores, are minor favourites going into Friday’s clash. Many online sports books – which can be easily compared and reviewed through Gambling Kingz – see England as favourites to record a hat-trick against the Indians, with Ladbrokes pricing the English at just 6/5 for the win at The Oval. A draw is even more favourable at 5/4 and India are out as far as 9/2 to earn a victory that would tie the scores up as the series draws to a close.
Ishant Sharma has been declared fit for this game though, and the pace he offers with the ball could prove vital in carving through the England batting line, but in truth the real problems lie behind the bat, rather than the ball.
The team barely managed to progress past the 150 mark in both of their innings at Old Trafford and Virat Kohli in particular appears to be struggling, having recorded just 108 runs in total for the series. It appears that the tight scheduling of five tests within 42 days appears to be taking its toll on the visiting side.