Cheni, Dec 15: Unbeaten in 17 cricket Tests — and with the series already sealed 3-0, India will look to registering a new record unbeaten streak when they meet England in the fifth and fil Test starting here on Friday.
With the added motivation of notching up the biggest Test series triumph against England, Virat Kohli’s men will take the field at a venue devastated by Cyclone Vardah earlier in the week.
The local organisers are leaving no stone unturned to get things right — from the seating arrangements to rolling burning coal plates to dry up the pitch — before the match begins.
Due to the after-effects of the cyclone, both the teams have only Thursday to train before the match and that could be a worry for the cricketers of either side.
However, the Indian team will be more relaxed coming into the match. India are on a 17-match unbeaten streak which equals their record of 17 Tests without a defeat between September 1985 and March 1987.
Leading the series 3-0, they will be out to record their biggest Test series win over the Englishmen — the 1992-93 series gave the Indians a 3-0 win.
They will be keen to keep the intensity and momentum going in their favour. Each player has contributed significantly to help the team earn the series-win. Led admirably by Kohli, the team has vanquished an opposition that tormented them in the past three bilateral series.
The 28-year-old himself has been in blazing form, having amassed 640 runs in four matches — second highest by an Indian in a bilateral series. Former captain Sunil Gavaskar still holds the record having scored 774 runs.
Apart from Kohli, No.3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has come out with some telling contributions of 385 runs and, along with opener Murali Vijay (328 runs), has provided a lot of stability at the top.
Wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel has scored two crucial knocks of 42 and 67 so far in two matches that the Gujarat stumper was part of and with the support of tail-enders Ravichandran Ashwin (239 runs), Ravindra Jadeja (173 runs) and Jayant Yadav (221 runs), India have always piled huge totals against England.
Ashwin and Jadeja have starred with the ball, picking up 27 and 16 scalps, respectively, thereby becoming India’s key men in delivering the wins.
Ashwin, now at his home in Cheni’s M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, will look to continue his tormenting acts against the Englishmen. The spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant are expected to be again unleashed against England, who have a lot of batsmen who are low on confidence. The visitors will rely on captain Alastair Cook and Joe Root to show them the way, again. Cook and Root have 310 and 397 runs each, respectively, but they have lacked support from the others.
In the bowling department, England have a big casualty in the form of James Anderson, who has been ruled out of the fifth Test due to stiffness, captain Cook said on Thursday.
Anderson has struggled in the series with only four wickets from two matches after coming back from an injury to his left shoulder.
However, England are pleased with the fitness of fellow pacer Stuart Broad, who has been struggling with a foot injury. Leg-spinner Adil Rashid has been the outstanding bowler for England, taking 22 wickets — but with no support from the other end, he has proved to be costly. IANS