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Preview: Team India look to turn the tide in Manchester

Preview: Team India look to turn the tide in Manchester

The Old Trafford at Manchester, considered one of the fastest pitches in England will host the fourth Test of the Investec Series from Thursday.

England's 266 run win at Southampton exposed India's weaknesses. Strange as it may sound, Ishant Sharma's absence was felt with Bhuvneshwar having to bowl below his best, Mohammed Shami letting the pressure off with poor lengths and Pankaj Singh unfortunate to have chances off his bowling dropped or missed. With no one to enforce pace on Alastair Cook and push him back, he played out of his crease to counter Bhuvneshwar's swing and once he found his gears, the rest of the English line up piled on the runs against a tiring attack bereft of ideas.

This lack of pace is why Pankaj might make way for Varun Aaron at Old Trafford. Aaron last played a Test in 2011 and has not bowled much since his return to first class cricket after recovering from an injury and in addition, he lacks the control and England could easily capitalize on that so he has a big task cut out for him if he makes it to the playing XI.

R Ashwin is likely to finally play a Test on the series after Jadeja's lacklustre bowling and Moeen Ali's success at the Ageas Bowl. Rohit Sharma or Jadeja could be the players to miss out if Ashwin plays.

Time is precious for Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, both of whom had a horrid Test at Southampton and are in the red with their form. Kohli's pattern of dismissals indicates he has to address a weakness of chasing balls outside off while Pujara's immaculate technique leaves him with his own temperament to work on.

Shikhar Dhawan could already be a casualty of poor form with Gautam Gambhir getting a lot more batting practice in the build up to the fourth Test. Only Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay have shown any kind of consistency on the tour and MS Dhoni's worries over the batting line up will remain until they prove themselves with a heavy amount of runs.

India didn't help themselves at Southampton with poor catching and England made the team pay for the reprieves. The young slip cordon is yet to develop the instinct slip fielders need to take those lightning quick catches or they could see the series slip away from their outstretched palms.

England will be buoyant after the win with Alastair Cook among the runs. He was lucky early in his innings but still had to fight for his runs. He will be more confident of grinding India at Old Trafford and with Ian Bell back in form, his job will be easier. Gary Ballance has been priceless for England, Jos Buttler gives them unpredictability lower down the order and Moeen Ali has earned his spot as a bowler if not as a batsman.

Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes too will be eager to show what they are capable of and so will Sam Robson. James Anderson and Stuart Broad exploited the conditions at the Ageas Bowl perfectly and the pitch at Old Trafford will encourage them again.

India will want to prove they can win Tests and series abroad while England will pull out all the stops to avoid a second home series loss this summer. Both will want to avoid the pressure of being 2-1 behind before the 5th Test so expect them to give their best here.

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