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Team India staged a dramatic comeback at Trent Bridge after being humbled by England at Lords. As important it was to win the match to stay alive in the series, the margin of the victory was equally important to create anxiousness in England's camp to announce that this Indian team is way better than what they played in the first two Tests.
India still trail the series 1-2 but going into the third Test it is England who have more questions to answer. India delivered a complete team performance in the third Test and had a lot of positives to take from the game. After a long time, Indian openers shared back to back 50-run stand in both the innings of an overseas Test match. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane who had been struggling to find form off late, registered half-centuries to boost their confidence going into the 4th Test. Hardik Pandya's all-round ability came in to play where he played a decisive role with the ball with a fifer and supported that with a quick 50 in the 2nd innings. Most importantly, India's slip catching improved drastically where they had held onto most of the catches that were there on the offering.
The Indian fast bowlers have been on song since the South Africa series and they've continued to impress in this series as well. Jasprit Bumrah's inclusion was a big boost to the already lethal pace attack and India will be hoping their pace quartet of Ishant, Shami, Bumrah, and Pandya to fire in the 4th Test as well. Ashwin's injury might hurt India a little if he has to miss out on the 4th Test as he bowled exceptionally well in the 1st Test but given the nature of the pitch at Rose Bowl stadium, India won't miss him much as they have an able replacement in Ravindra Jadeja.
On the other hand, England suffered a couple of injury scare with Bairstow, their best batsman of the series walking off the field after a fractured finger. However, Bairstow has been declared fit for the 4th Test but it will be a dicey call to take as his inclusion can aggravate his injury. Chris Woakes also felt stiffness in his right quadriceps and opted out of training. He gave a match-winning performance in the 2nd Test and it will be another blow to England if he has to miss out.
England's opening pair also has been a worry to them as Cook has just managed 80 runs in his 5 innings while Jennings has 94 runs in 5 innings. Their best batsman and skipper, Joe Root has failed to shine after his 80 in the 1st Test and his best score has been 19 since then. Jos Buttler's fighting hundred and Ben Stokes' 50 would definitely give them some respite and England will hope that they both take this form to Southampton.
England's bowling has been really good led by their veteran pacer James Anderson but the fielders haven't backed their bowlers much. England have taken just 14 out of the 26 catches and their fielding in the slip cordon has been a matter of concern, an area where India improved going into the 3rd Test. We can expect a couple of changes on the English side as Adil Rashid hasn't contributed much and Moeen Ali presents a strong case as an all-rounder. Sam Curran who had to be left out to accommodate both Woakes and Stokes might also get a look in. James Vince was including in the squad as a backup of Bairstow and if England decide to rest Bairstow, Vince will most likely get a game as a specialist batsman.
Going in the 4th Test, India will be a much-settled side in terms of their plans and how to execute them while England will be hoping to learn from their mistakes and repeat their performances from the first two tests.
Catch all the action from the 4th of the five Tests as Rose Bowl in Southampton, Thursday, 30th August onwards, 3:30 PM IST, 11:00 AM local time.