3 things India must do to win the 4th Test
India has staged a remarkable turnaround in the series against England in the third Test, after being down 2-0 after the first two. Rarely have we seen an Asian team in England stage such a fight back after being knocked out earlier in the series. In fact, India's dominance in the third Test was so complete that it's now expected to make a Bradman's Australia like come-back in the series.
But here are three things India's must do to win the 4th Test and mount a comeback.
#3 Solid effort from the Top 3 batsmen
India's top three batsmen have had a below par series so far. In fact, their performance was so poor in the first two Tests, that India went in with a different combination in each of the first three Tests. But, finally, in the third Test, the top three performed much better and that helped India post a 203 run win against England.
Now, going into the 4th Test, India will almost certainly retain the combination of Dhawan, Rahul and Pujara. The trio's confidence, on the back of a decent performance in the previous Test, will be high. Further, India's win in the previous Test has instilled a belief in its batsmen that they can handle the seaming and swinging deliveries of Anderson and Broad. So, expect the top three batsmen to contribute heavily in the 4th Test and score, between them, at least 150 runs to give India's middle order a solid foundation to build on.
#2 Ashwin must pick up wickets in the first innings
India's performance in the first Test wasn't too bad. In fact, had it not been for a complete batting collapse, India would have won that Test. They eventually fell only 31 runs short. One of the key aspects in that match was Ashwin's performance in the first innings. He picked up 4 wickets and his success gave time for the pacers to stay fresh and maintain pressure on England's batsmen.
The Ageas bowl wicket, where the fourth Test will be played, tends to play slightly slower than the typical wicket in other venues in England. In fact, the scores from the county matches this season support that fact. This means that the pacers will have to bowl longer and toil harder for their wickets. If Ashwin can pick up wickets like he did in the first Test, then, India will almost certainly win this contest.
#1 Catches behind the stumps must be held
India can draw a lot of lessons from its win in the third Test. One key lesson is realizing how important holding on to catches is to a Test match win. K.L. Rahul's spectacular catching in the slips ensured India got regular breakthroughs. That further inspired the bowlers to continue bowling consistently at speeds above 140 kph. In fact, despite, effectively, being short a bowler, due to Ashwin's injury, India's pace bowlers comfortably got their 20 wickets.
So, if India holds on to catches behind the stumps, it will have taken a giant step toward a series-levelling win.