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Preview: England vs. India Fifth Test - prediction, team news, series so far

Sports Mole previews the Fifth Test between England and India at Edgbaston, including predictions, team news and a sum-up of the series so far.

Fresh off the back of a series whitewash against New Zealand, Ben Stokes's England side will look to continue their resurgence against India at Edgbaston on Friday.

Originally scheduled to take place at Old Trafford last summer, a COVID-19 outbreak in the India camp meant the final Test would be forced back a year.

Match preview

India's Mohammed Shami in action against England on August 16, 2021© Reuters

Lofting the ball into the Headingley stands, Jonny Bairstow's final six of yet another remarkable innings capped off a stellar victory for England.

Having guided the hosts to victory in the previous Test at Trent Bridge, notching up an impressive 77-ball hundred, Bairstow completed the job for England at Headingley in a similarly stylish fashion.

After the Yorkshireman's knock of 162 in the first innings helped England recover from an early collapse, Bairstow strutted out on Day Five to notch up 71 runs from just 44 balls to seal a 3-0 series victory.

The feeling amongst the English cricket set-up is in stark contrast to how it was heading into the New Zealand series, where England had won one of their previous 17 Test matches.

Now, as they look to reconvene and finish off their incomplete series against India, England are enjoying their richest vein of form in recent memory, with Brendon McCullum credited as the architect behind the rebuild.

England batsman Jonny Bairstow celebrates hitting a century against New Zealand on June 14, 2022.© Reuters

Granted, the swashbuckling approach is unlikely to succeed 100% of the time, with Friday's one-off Test against India offering an ideal opportunity to measure England's progress.

A very different England side failed to impress against India last summer, losing two of the four Tests, while winning one and drawing the other.

What was supposed to be a five-Test series was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the India camp, meaning the final match has been forced back 12 months.

With the scoreline already at 2-1 in the tourists' favour, England's best hopes are for a 2-2 draw, meaning the hosts will need to win at Edgbaston to avoid a series defeat.

For India, their Test performances since facing England last summer have been mixed - they brushed aside New Zealand in November, before succumbing to a disappointing series defeat to South Africa across December and January.

The 2-1 series loss marked the last for Virat Kohli as Test captain, with the legendary batsman announcing his retirement from skipper duties in the aftermath of the South Africa defeat.

All of this came after India narrowly missed out on being crowned ICC World Test Championship champions last summer, losing to none other than New Zealand in the final held at Southampton.

India's Rohit Sharma celebrates his half century with Cheteshwar Pujara on August 27, 2021© Reuters

Rohit Sharma has taken over as Test captain in Kohli's place, with the 35-year-old's first outing as skipper ending in a comfortable 2-0 series victory over Sri Lanka.

While the circumstances surrounding Friday's Test feel unusual, there does remain plenty of incentive for India to get a result, as victory at Edgbaston would secure a first series win in England since 2007.

A result that felt like a formality before the fifth and final Test last summer, however, the trajectories both sides have taken since means England's hopes of retaining the Pataudi Trophy are still alive and well.

Team News

Ben Stokes congratulates Jonny Bairstow after hitting 136 runs versus New Zealand on June 14, 2022.© Reuters

The way in which England are expected to approach the game is unlikely to change, and neither will the personnel, with an unchanged squad named for the India Test.

Ben Foakes, who was replaced mid-Test last week due to a positive COVID-19 infection, has retained his place and is expected to keep wicket.

His replacement, Sam Billings, has also been called up to the 15-man squad and will be ready to play, should Foakes miss out.

Questions hang over the head of England opener Zak Crawley, who despite receiving the backing of coach McCullum after the New Zealand Test, will need to prove his worth next to Alex Lees at the top of the order.

With a top-order set in stone, England's only selection dilemma is likely to come with the bowling attack, as James Anderson returns from an injury.

Expected to be involved, the likes of Matthew Potts, Jamie Overton, Craig Overton and Jack Leach will be amongst those vying for a spot in the team.

Having played all three Tests against the Black Caps, Stuart Broad could be in line for a rest at Edgbaston.

After the fifth day was cancelled last year because of a COVID-19 outbreak, India are once again suffering from positive tests this time around, with newly appointed captain Sharma currently in isolation.

Touch and go as to whether he will be involved, India's top order could be thrown into further trouble if Sharma misses out, as opening partner KL Rahul is also absent for the match.

Opening batsman Mayank Agarwal has been called up to the squad, with regular number four and former captain Kohli under pressure to perform in English conditions.

Kohli managed just two half-centuries from seven innings in England last summer, while failing to convert any of those fifties into hundreds.

India captain Virat Kohli talks off after being caught against England on August 28, 2021© Reuters

At the opposite end of the scorecard, India will be looking to call upon an attack that caused England plenty of problems 12 months ago.

Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah were the picks of the bunch for India last summer, with the two pace bowlers possessing the tourists' biggest threat with the ball in hand.

The only other question will be whether India opt for a four-pronged fast-bowling attack, or find a place for spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the 11.

Ashwin did not feature in any of India's four Tests against England last year, but did shine in the second innings of their warm-up match against Leicestershire, picking up two wickets to see his side home.

England squad: Ben Stokes (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Sam Billings (wk), Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wk), Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Matthew Potts, Ollie Pope, Joe Root

India squad: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Mayank Agarwal

Series so far

First Test at Trent Bridge:
ENG – 183 & 303
IND – 278 & 52/1
Match Drawn

Second Test at Lord's:
IND – 364 & 298/8d
ENG – 391 & 120
IND won by 151 runs

Third Test at Headingley:
IND – 78 & 278
ENG – 432
ENG won by an innings and 76 runs

Fourth Test at The Oval:
IND – 191 & 466
ENG – 290 & 210
IND won by 157 runs

SM words green background

We say: England to win

Riding the crest of a wave, England will view the upcoming fixture against India as another chance to leave a lasting impression on one of world cricket's premier sides.

The tourists' injury concerns will pose a problem heading into the Test match and this England side could prove insurmountable for a bruised India outfit.

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England batsman Jonny Bairstow celebrates hitting a century against New Zealand on June 14, 2022.
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