India vs England 5th and Final Test commences in Dharamshala

In the 5th and Final Test between England and India. British Captain Ben Stokes won the toss and choose to Bat first.

India leading the series 3-1, faces England in the 5th and final Test Match in HPCA, Dharamshala. Devdutt Padikal makes his Test Debut and R. Ashwin marks his 100th test.

Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on Thursday. Mark Wood replaces Ollie Robinson in the visitor’s squad, while India grants Devdutt Padikkal his debut cap, with Jasprit Bumrah returning as Akash Deep is omitted from the lineup.

England, led by Ben Stokes, claimed an initial triumph in the series with a 28-run victory in Hyderabad during the first Test. However, Rohit Sharma and his team have dominated since then, securing wins in Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, and Ranchi.

The upcoming match holds special significance as Ravichandran Ashwin and Jonny Bairstow are set to reach the milestone of their 100th Test cap.

In one way or another, England is poised to conclude their tour of India on a positive note as they journey to Dharamsala for the fifth and final Test, marking the beginning of the Bazball era where Ben Stokes’ team is no longer vying for at least a share of the series.

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The days leading up to the final Test have been unusually quiet, especially following the intense action in Ranchi. With the team dispersed between Bengaluru and Chandigarh, England has been regrouping after their disappointing performance in the fourth Test. Despite having a firm hold on the match at various points, including their remarkable win in Hyderabad, they saw their advantage slowly slip away in the face of India’s dominant display.

From Akash Deep’s explosive start on the first day to Dhruv Jurel’s impressive performances under pressure, and finally, India’s spin prowess taking center stage in the critical third innings, England’s renowned self-belief has been tested like never before on this tour. Stokes even admitted in his post-match comments that competing on equal terms seemed “impossible” – perhaps the most pessimistic statement to come from his leadership tenure.

So, it’s a return to Base Camp for the Bazball philosophy, whatever that might involve. In some respects, the circumstances surrounding the fifth Test should align well with England’s carefree approach – a match where the outcome holds little consequence beyond pride, facing an India team that may slightly ease off now that their formidable home record has been maintained for another series.

However, with Ravichandran Ashwin’s 100th Test milestone and the return of the formidable Jasprit Bumrah to their lineup, India possesses all the firepower and motivation needed to pursue a 4-1 series victory. Bumrah’s absence in Ranchi arguably played a significant role in England’s resurgence during the first innings. This scoreline, reminiscent of numerous past England tours, contradicts the approach that the visitors’ new philosophy aimed to eliminate.

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As Stokes himself pointed out, “3-2 sounds better than 3-1 or 4-1,” indicating that another thrilling contest is likely on the cards. However, concerns arose within the England camp as a stomach bug led to Shoaib Bashir and Ollie Robinson being quarantined in their hotel instead of joining the team for their final practice session.

India, on the other hand, has shown remarkable resilience and determination throughout the series, despite the absence of key players like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. The team has fostered a strong spirit and unearthed talented players who seem poised to lead in the years to come. The milestone of Ashwin’s 100th Test highlights the enduring quality that has propelled India’s challenge, while Rohit Sharma’s leadership has flourished in the absence of senior players, particularly in his handling of Rajat Patidar.

Speaking about Patidar, Rohit Sharma praised him as a talented player and emphasized the importance of supporting him through the early stages of his career. This nurturing approach echoes England’s own commitment to continuity in selection, though they’ve refrained from taking credit for India’s success.

One of the most captivating storylines of the series has been the rise of Yashasvi Jaiswal as India’s newest batting sensation. Despite England’s confidence, they’ve struggled to contain Jaiswal’s impact, with his performances proving pivotal in the series. Another standout performance from Jaiswal in the upcoming Test could widen the gap between the two sides even further, requiring something extraordinary from England to bridge it.

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