Former cricketers Nasser Hussain and Ravi Shastri weighed in on the winner of the ongoing fifth Test between England and India. Hussain mentioned that he would have loved to see Shastri and Virat Kohli against Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
A surge of COVID-19 cases in the Indian camp in the 2021 leg of the five-match series meant only four games could happen last summer. The tourists refused to take the field for the fifth Test in Manchester; hence, the stakeholders scheduled the game for July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Hussain said he would've loved to see Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri take on Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum for the fifth game. He reflected on the 2021 leg of the series and stated how England looked to survive India's hostility at Lord's. However, Hussain believes England are now playing a different brand of cricket and are looking to build on it.
"It's a different kind of aggression. It would've been lovely to see a Shastri and Kohli aggression after what they did in Australia and winning there going 2-1 up against McCullum-Stokes' bazball aggression. So, it's a different kind. I think if you asked me eight months ago, it was about England and fighting back about the hostility at Lord's and Kohli in that huddle saying unleash hell. He had them revved up."
"I think that would have been the focus for England. I think now the focus is slightly different. They're trying to continue what they did to New Zealand and this new form of cricket they're trying to play, obviously, they still want to level the series. But they're trying to keep going in that sort of positive mindset and continue the good work from the New Zealand series."
It's worth noting that England, under the regime of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, seem to have become a much-improved side. Stokes started his full-time Test captaincy stint with a 3-0 sweep over New Zealand, chasing targets north of 250 in all three games.
"I think this game is between India's fast bowlers and England's top order" - Ravi Shastri
Meanwhile, Shastri opines that the Test will revolve around Indian fast bowlers against England's top-order as the former will provide a formidable challenge. However, the 60-year old lamented the absence of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, given their excellence last year.
"I think this game is between India's fast bowlers and England's top order. I think the intensity of the Indian attack will be more than New Zealand - pace-wise, aggression-wise, and bounce-wise when it comes to bowling at the top order of England."
"The test for India will be their batting against England's bowling. So, it's going to be a great match-up, India lack the experience of Rohit and Rahul at the top, which is so important in England, to have a settled opening pair. It's a pair that has done well in the past. Unfortunately, that's not opening and I think it's going to be a problem."
Rahul missed the England tour with a groin injury, while Sharma failed to recover from COVID-19 in time for the Test. Hence, India have handed Jasprit Bumrah the captaincy, while Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill opened the innings for the visitors.