India eager to spoil Cook's England farewell

2018-09-06 22:44
Ravi Shastri (Getty)

London - Ravi Shastri has promised India "will not throw in the towel" when they face England in the fifth Test at The Oval starting Friday despite having already lost the series.

England's 60-run win in the fourth Test at Southampton gave them an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match contest.

It also meant India, for all they are the world's top-ranked Test side, had now won just one of their last nine series outside Asia.

The Oval clash has been given added significance by the fact it will be the last appearance before international retirement for Alastair Cook, England's all-time leading Test run-scorer.

But India coach Shastri, who helped his country to a 1986 series win in England, is determined the tourists spoil the party.

"This is a team that will not throw in the towel," Shastri told reporters at The Oval on Wednesday.

"It will come out there and look to compete and not be on the first flight home, rest assured that's exactly what we will do."

The frustration for India, who earlier this year lost 2-1 in South Africa, is that two Tests in the current series -- a 31-run loss in the opener at Edgbaston and the Southampton clash could well have gone their way, particularly if captain Virat Kohli had enjoyed more support with the bat.

Kohli is the leading batsman in the series with 544 runs at an average of 68, including two hundreds, yet he will end up on the losing side.

"I think you have got to get tough mentally," said Shastri when asked how India could improve their away record.

"We have run teams close overseas and we have competed. But now it's not about competing. We have to win games from here."

It was a point echoed Thursday by Ajinkya Rahane, India's vice-captain, who said he and his fellow senior batsmen, with the exception of Kohli, had failed to back up an impressive attack.

"I think we as a batting group fell short," Rahane admitted.

"When you are on tour you work so hard ... then (if) one department performs well it is the responsibility of the other group to back them."

India could bring in left-armer Ravindra Jaedeja for his first match this series, with fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin struggling for both form and fitness lately, while middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari is a candidate for a Test debut at the expense of all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

England, meanwhile, confirmed Thursday they would field the same XI that played at Southampton but with Jonny Bairstow passed fit to keep wicket after breaking a finger behind the stumps during India's 20-3-run win in the third Test at Trent Bridge.

Jos Buttler, England's white-ball gloveman, who deputised as keeper for Bairstow midway through the third Test and once again at Southampton, reverts to his Test role of specialist batsman.

But Joe Root denied England were being overly indulgent of Yorkshire teammate Bairstow's wish to remain a Test wicket-keeper.

"No, definitely not," he said. "I made it very clear if he's going to be the Test match wicket-keeper he is going to have to keep working really hard."

Root will again bat in his favoured position of number four after Moeen Ali, a match-winner in the third Test with his off-spin, moved up to number three in the second innings at Southampton.

The longer-term question of who replaces Cook at the top of the order remains, as does what England do when James Anderson -- who needs just four more wickets to equal Australia great Glenn McGrath's record of 563 for the most Test wickets taken by a pace bowler -- finally calls it a day.

Meanwhile 33-year-old left-handed opener Cook hopes to put a run of low scores behind him at The Oval.

"Four-one sounds better than three-two. But if I could play a really good innings that would be fantastic," he said.

Read more on:    india  |  england  |  ravi shastri  |  cricket


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