England sweat on playing eleven as Southampton Test looms large
Since the 2013/14 Ashes at home, England has lost 11 tests out of 33 that they played. These numbers are even more awful in away tests. Last summer at home, Joe Root started his stint as test Captain with two comfortable series win against SA(3-1) and WI(2-1). Though they won those two series they had a couple of odd outings at Trent Bridge and Leeds against SA and WI.
Again after a disastrous Ashes in Australia and a series loss in NZ, they started their home season with a loss against at Lord's. Since 2016, they were bowled out three times inside a session. And in the last seven tests alone, they had done it twice. Consistent failures in overseas series and inconsistent home performances prompted chief selector Ed Smith to rope in limited overs specialist Jos Buttler into the test playing IX.
After three missing out in three outings, Jos had repaid the faith chairman of selectors had shown in him with a gritty 106 in second innings. His batting heroics in Nottingham and his keeping skills will him a tailor-made replacement to injured Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps. This will give a sigh of relief to the team management who are already having plenty to tinker about their batting failures.
With constant batting failures, everyone expected some harsh calls on the team selection. But they went on with the same team and added in-form players James Vince and Moeen Ali to the team who have some stellar performances in the ongoing County season. Will see what these two men can offer to this team.
How about Vince at no.3?
Vince came as a cover-up to injured Bairstow. They will hope their premier batsman in the series to recover in time for the fourth test and most-likely will play as a batsman at number four. And they are looking like to continue their opening-combo, it is more unlikely for Vince to get into the team. Still, they can play him in place of Olive Pope and can ask him to bat at the no.3 position. This will move down Root & Bairstow to four & five from where they can anchor the innings. This also means Sam Curran had to sit out again.
Moeen Ali will give more options
Moeen Ali who is coming from a scintillating all-around performance against Yorkshire at Scarborough with a double-hundred(219) and an 8 wicket haul. They will be tempted to include him in the final eleven. If they can include him as their lone spinner at the expense of Adil Rashid then they had a luxury of bringing back their Edgbaston hero Sam Curran.
Best IX : Cook, Jennings, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, M Ali, Woakes, Curran, Broad, Anderson
Can they bounce back?
India has raised enough questions at Trent Bridge for the English think tank to tinker with. Now it is time for England to respond back and they had enough permutations and combinations to start with. Like last season, after leading the series 2-0 again they had an ordinary-outing and they had another chance at Southampton to end their long stretched inconsistent performances. But the question is will they come with a right combination or not and will they perform the way they did in first two tests especially with Indians having their tails up.