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IND vs ENG, 5th Test: India looks to stamp domination against England at picturesque Dharamsala


Nestled amidst a serene blanket of snow, the Dhauladhar range looms over the city of Dharamsala, casting a spell of awe and majesty.

But for the past few days, the quietude of this picturesque town has been replaced by the boisterous banter of cricket fans from England and India, as they eagerly await the return of Test cricket to the state after a hiatus of seven long years.

Despite the clash being a dead rubber, with India already pocketing the five-match series 3-1, the stage is set for the 100th Test appearance of two seasoned campaigners – Ravichandran Ashwin and Jonny Bairstow.

And, with the towering sentinels looking on, India hopes to continue its winning streak against a side looking for a favourable closure to its long tour.

RELATED: Rohit Sharma hails Ashwin as ‘big match-winner’ ahead of spin wizard’s landmark 100th Test

The visiting team started off the series with a momentous victory in the first Test in Hyderabad, but as India bounced back and flexed its muscles, the ‘Bazball’ fizzled out.

However, the cold conditions of this small town have made England feel at home, and, with rain in the forecast on Thursday, it would be interesting to see the plan of action for both teams.

The pitch wears a whitish-brown and barren look, which Indian captain Rohit Sharma describes as a ‘typically Indian’ surface. Three weeks ago, the same pitch was used for the Ranji Trophy fixture between Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, where the pacers claimed 34 wickets.

England players during the practice session ahead of the India vs England final test match at HPCA Ground in Dharamshala.

England players during the practice session ahead of the India vs England final test match at HPCA Ground in Dharamshala.
| Photo Credit:
R V Moorthy / The Hindu

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England players during the practice session ahead of the India vs England final test match at HPCA Ground in Dharamshala.
| Photo Credit:
R V Moorthy / The Hindu

Traditionally, the venue has favoured the fast bowlers, even though Indian spinners played a decisive role in the team’s win against Australia here, back in 2017.

India has, so far, had success with two pacers and three spinners. However, if the chilly weather persists, the home team could pick three quicks – a possibility that captain Rohit Sharma didn’t rule out.

“If we feel the weather is going to be like this, there’s a good chance,” he said on the eve of the game.

England, however, has stuck to its two pacers-two spinners combination, while Mark Wood has come in for Ollie Robinson.

History also beckons veteran James Anderson. At 41, the fast bowler has shown hunger to get better every day and is just two away from 700 Test wickets.

ALSO READ: ‘India’s skill has been a lot better than ours,’ says Stokes ahead of fifth Test

“Seven hundred wickets is phenomenal as a seam bowler. He has had an amazing career up to date and I just can’t see him stopping,” England captain Ben Stokes said.

As far as India’s batting is concerned, Rajat Patidar is likely to hold on to his spot despite not-so-memorable outings — he has scored 63 runs in six innings so far — so far in the tournament.

The batter from Indore spent a long time in the nets on Wednesday and got backing from the Indian captain, who called him a ‘talent player’. With K.L. Rahul missing out, this will be an opportunity for Patidar to prove his mettle.

Patidar with batting coach Vikram Rathour during a practice session ahead of the India vs England final test match at HPCA Ground in Dharamshala.

Patidar with batting coach Vikram Rathour during a practice session ahead of the India vs England final test match at HPCA Ground in Dharamshala.
| Photo Credit:
R V Moorthy / The Hindu

lightbox-info

Patidar with batting coach Vikram Rathour during a practice session ahead of the India vs England final test match at HPCA Ground in Dharamshala.
| Photo Credit:
R V Moorthy / The Hindu

Despite it being an optional session, Yashasvi Jaiswal, who’s closing in on becoming the second Indian after Sunil Gavaskar to amass 700 runs in a series, had a long outing in the nets and the youngster would be hoping to continue his dream run. He is also just 29 runs away from completing 1000 Test runs.

Jaiswal’s Mumbai team-mate Sarfaraz Khan, who failed to score big in the last Test in Ranchi after a memorable debut, too, would be hoping to make the most of a surface, which according to Stokes, is a ‘belter’.

With the temperature expected to hover around nine degrees over the next few days, an exciting contest awaits.





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