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Why India Should Be Scared Of England Ahead Of The 5th Test Match

Jonny Bairstow celebrates his century against New Zealand
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India take on England in the rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston from July 1st and after taking a 2-1 lead last year, the Men in Blue only need a draw in Birmingham to secure a famous series victory away from home. However, while it has been only ten months since the previous four Tests last summer, they will not face the same opposition they did in 2021. 

The new England led by Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum that will greet them in Edgbaston later this week is a different beast, moulded under the image of their maverick captain and coach and already making their presence felt in the sport.


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Under their new management, England just destroyed the current World Test Champions, New Zealand, 3-0 in emphatic fashion. The hosts chased down a total of 250+ in the fourth innings of each of the three Tests, becoming the first team in the history of cricket to achieve this feat. This wasn’t just any old clean sweep or run chase either, it was England laying down a marker that they aren’t taking any prisoners in the longest format, mowing down targets of 279, 299, and 296 in 78.5, 50, and 54.3 overs, respectively.

The ball-striking on display was destructive white-ball England coming to the fore in whites, laying waste to world-class opposition bowlers such as Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner as if they were club cricketers. Jonny Bairstow’s resurgence as a Test force in the New Zealand series is a microcosm of England’s red-ball revolution. The Englishman is now the highest scorer in Test cricket in 2022 after he amassed an incredible 394 runs at a strike rate of 120 in three Tests against the Blackcaps.


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The Yorkshireman smashed two centuries at better than a run-a-ball to rescue England from the depths of despair at Trent Bridge and Headingley, playing arguably the two best innings of his career in the last fortnight. Bairstow previously showed flashes of brilliance as a red-ball cricketer in 2016 but was mismanaged by the England brass, leading to his eventual departure from the side. However, under McCullum, the shackles are unleashed, and the mind freed to take more risks.

England’s white-ball monsters are now backed to throw caution into the wind and flex their muscle. The doubters will question whether this is a sustainable method for success, but before McCullum, England failed anyway. Now, they get a chance to do it more spectacularly.

For India, this is a worrying prospect. The Men in Blue toiled hard to take a 2-1 lead last summer and could see those efforts blown away if they run into this English team with more momentum than a freight train. In addition to a reset Bairstow, the hosts also have the luxury of Ben Stokes for the fifth Test, giving the team better balance with five bowling options.

The visitors, conversely, will be fielding a weaker outfit compared to the one that took the field in 2021. India’s opening partnership of Rahul and Rohit was the bedrock of their success last summer, with the pair blunting the new ball with great success in each of the four Tests to make the life easier for the batters to come. However, KL Rahul won’t feature in Edgbaston due to injury issues, while Rohit Sharma picked up a positive Covid Test last Saturday, forcing India to potentially play a weakened opening combination of Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal.


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Both Agarwal and Gill are susceptible to the moving ball because of flaws in their techniques, putting more pressure on the likes of Kohli and Pant in the middle order to do the heavy lifting. The conditions will dictate how the final Test pans out at Edgbaston, but the rules of engagement in the series have changed since the last Test at the Oval. India may boast a world-class seam attack which includes Bumrah, Siraj, Shami, and Jadeja, but England are no longer the sitting ducks they were in 2021.

The Men in Blue still have every chance of getting the result they need to win their first Test series in England in 15 years and cement themselves as the best touring team of the 21st century. However, after the emergence of Baz-ball and the new England, their path to the top just got that much harder.