England vs India 2018: We will target Jonny Bairstow's broken finger, declares Mohammed Shami
The battle lines have been drawn for the fourth Test between England and India at Southampton. Ahead of the keenly anticipated tussle, Indian pacer Mohammed Shami has sounded a warning to the injury-hit Jonny Bairstow.
With Bairstow recovering from a broken finger, India's in-form fast bowlers are eager to exploit his situation and make him uncomfortable at the crease. And the England batsman cannot expect any clemency from the visitors if he takes the field at the Ageas Bowl.
Shami asserted, "When you see that a batsman has a weakness and he feels uncomfortable in some way, you'd prefer to work on that aspect. Not just me, any fast bowler will want to target his (Bairstow's) weak zone. So we will definitely look at that."
Upon injuring the middle finger on his left hand during the Trent Bridge Test, speculation arose on Bairstow's availability for the last two matches. However, the Yorkshireman has been cleared to play in the fourth Test. Insisting that his broken finger has healed adequately, he even remains intent on retaining his wicket-keeping gloves.
After going down by an agonising margin of 31 runs in the series opener at Edgbaston, India were blown away by a rampant England lineup in the second Test at Lord's. When it seemed like the series was heading in only one direction, the tourists bounced back in an emphatic manner by registering a memorable 203-run victory in the third Test at Trent Bridge.
Having got the luxury of a sizeable first-innings total, India's seamers hunted as a pack and broke the back of England's batting lineup. The significant difference in pace between the two bowling attacks, in favour of the visitors, did not go unnoticed.
Two days before the start of play, the pitch at Southampton sported a greenish tinge. Factoring in the upturn in the teams' fortunes during the last ten days, it is easy to understand the palpable confidence in India's bowling unit.
Shami felt, "Our country has got such a bowling attack after a long time and if you compare one on one (with England or any other team), we have better bowlers."
Considering that senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is recovering from a hip strain, there is a slim chance of India fielding an all-pace attack like they did against South Africa at Johannesburg. But Shami dismissed those suggestions by giving an idea of the team management's thought process.
The 27-year old opined, "It's hard to decide to field five pacers in a Test match. According to me, you need a spinner because on the fifth day it will turn for sure. I can definitely say that there will be a result on this wicket, and a good result."
The fourth Test between England and India will start on Thursday at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.