England vs India 4th Test: Recent history of Southampton suggests it might help spin
Southampton, the venue for the fourth test match between England and India, has a history of helping spinners in the second innings. No one else knows it better than the Indian team, as they were at the receiving end of this during the second innings of the last test they played here in 2014.
Moeen Ali, who is certainly not one of the greatest spinners, ran through the Indian side in the second innings of that test, he took 6 wickets for 67 runs.
This fact again came to the fore in the last county match played here between Hampshire and Nottinghamshire. Hampshire left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, picked-up four wickets during the 4th innings of that match.
The weather forecast also favours the above argument, as the conditions are expected to remain dry during the five days of the match.
India may contemplate playing two spinners as the captain, Virat Kohli, predicted that the pitch might aid spin bowling. Ashwin is sure to come in as India might settle for the 4-1 pace-spin combination. However, if India are to play two spinners, Jadeja is likely to come in place of Mohammed Shami.
Having said that, India played two spinners in lord's test which didn't prove to be a right decision. The burden of recent history might prevail over reasoning and India might go in with only one spinner.
Also, the English side has strengthened their spin bowling department by including Moeen Ali in the side, which again points out to the fact that pitch might help spinners. Moeen Ali's success against India during the test match played here in 2014, might also have played a part in this decision.
It's no secret that if conditions are dry and helpful for spinners, it will be an advantage for India. Ravichandran Ashwin has the class and guile to trouble any batsman, not to mention all of left-handers in the English side. On the other hand, England doesn't have a world class spinner in their ranks to trouble Indian batsmen. Adil Rashid at best has looked average during the first three tests of the series.
Nonetheless, it will be an interesting contest between bat and ball with both sides looking to win the test and establish their supremacy in the world of test cricket.