England vs India 2018: Should India bat or bowl first in the 4th Test?
The last time Virat Kohli won the toss in the current England tour was in the first One Day International at Nottingham on 12th July 2018, nearly 50 days back. In the first three Test matches, the decision was taken out of his hands and it was Joe Root all the way. Of course, the two factors that Kohli can’t control in a cricket field are the fate of a toss and his boundless enthusiasm for the game.
During this dry run of 50 days, if not in the other matches, Kohli would have loved to win the all-important toss in the second Test match at Lord’s. As luck would have it, Kohli lost the toss in all the three Test matches and he must now be hoping that Joe Root’s luck with the toss runs out in the fourth Test.
Presupposing, the Law of Probability favouring India this time around, What Team India should do if they win the toss?
When Kohli goes out to toss, he should bear in mind the following factors:
#1 Past records at the venue
England had played just two Test matches at Ageas Bowl, the first one against Sri Lanka in 2011 and the second one against India in 2014.
In the first Test match, England won the toss and elected to bowl first. Sri Lanka was bowled out for 184 in the first innings. However, the match ended in a draw as only 260 of the probable 450 overs of play was feasible due to inclement weather.
In the second Test match against India at this venue, England won the toss and elected to bat first and amazed 569 runs in the first innings. India ended up losing the match by 266 runs.
The two test matches at Ageas Bowl had produced two contrasting results. As a result, there is not a lot more to read into the results and past records at this venue. In the absence of a track record, Kohli should be guided by the overhead conditions and the nature of the pitch on the match day.
#2 Recent County records at the venue
Based on the recent County records in this ground, the first day’s conditions are expected to favour the bowlers and the pitch is expected to ease out thereafter. The second and third innings scores are expected to be more than the first and fourth innings scores. The spinners will come into play on the fourth and fifth days.
#3 Team India’s record outside Asia
Team India’s record outside Asia leads to one overwhelming conclusion. Starting from their victory in the Durban Test in 2010 to the Trent Bridge victory last week, India had won only 7 matches outside Asia. Three of those seven wins came against the abysmal West Indies team.
However, the one common denominator in all those seven wins was the fact that on all those 7 occasions India had batted first. It didn’t mean India had not lost a match when they batted first in that period. The recent defeat in the second Test at Lord ’s was one of such many occasions. But their only wins in the last 10 years outside Asia had all come when they batted first.