London - England are bidding to keep the India series alive
with victory in this week's fourth Test in Mumbai but defeat will raise further
questions about Alastair Cook's future as captain.
The visitors must win at the Wankhede Stadium to stop
top-ranked India from sealing the five-Test series with a match to spare
following two consecutive defeats.
Virat Kohli's side won by eight wickets in Mohali last week
to take an unbeatable 2-0 series lead after victory in Viskhapatnam followed a
draw in the first Test at Rajkot.
Anything less than a victory for England would see India
exact revenge for their 2012 home series loss to Cook's men and add to
uncertainty surrounding the English skipper.
His future as captain has been in doubt since he admitted
just before the tour that he could quit at the end of the test series because
he was finding it hard to be apart from his family for long periods.
After becoming a father for a second time last month, the
31-year-old left-handed opener said he found the long England tours difficult,
while insisting he remained deeply proud of captaining his country.
Despite England's travails in India, coach Trevor Bayliss
said he expected Cook to be in charge for the Ashes tour at the end of 2017.
"He's talking about the next Ashes series and being out
in Australia," Bayliss told BBC Sport.
"Sometimes there are little comments made along the way
and they get blown out of all proportion. He's certainly up for the fight. I
haven't had any discussion with him any other way and that's what we've been
working towards," the Australian coach added.
Cook also received the backing of batsman Joe Root who
hailed his skipper as a "brilliant leader".
"Hopefully, we get these results we want in the last
two games and we can put right what has been quite a frustrating last couple of
weeks," Root, 25, told reporters last week.
England's chances of salvaging the series were dealt a blow
however when teenage batting sensation Haseeb Hameed was ruled out of the
remaining two matches after injuring his hand during the Mohali match.
The 19-year-old's absence could mean a test debut for opener
Keaton Jennings. The 24-year-old South Africa-born left-handed batsman has been
called up as Hameed's replacement.
Allrounder Liam Dawson is also in contention for a place
after being drafted in to replace left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari, who is
struggling with a back injury he sustained in the second Test in Visakhapatnam.
England will be boosted by the likely return of fast bowler
Stuart Broad who has recovered from a strained tendon in his foot.
India are expected to be able to call upon the services of
opener Lokesh Rahul who has recovered from the injury that kept him out of the
Mohali test, according to India media reports.
His return threatens the involvement of Karun Nair who
endured a disappointing Test debut in Mohali.
Wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, who impressed with both bat and
gloves in Mohali after eight years in the Test wilderness, is expected to keep
his place as Wriddhiman Saha has yet to recover from a thigh strain.
Former Indian batsman Virender Sehwag expects India to be
too strong for England but believes the visitors will not give up the series
without a fight.
"I think we will win 3-0 as I expect England to show
some resistance and that's why I won't predict 4-0," he told the Press
Trust of India news agency.
The final Test begins in Chennai on December 16.
India (from): Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Parthiv Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Bhuvenshwar Kumar
England (from): Alastair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett, Keaton