Beaten England set for final reprieve
England hope to preserve a six-year unbeaten run in Tests on home soil by beating India in the final Test at The Oval.cricket Updated: Aug 04, 2007 11:51 IST
England are likely to announce an unchanged squad on Sunday as they attempt to preserve a six-year unbeaten run in home Test series by beating India in next week's third and final Test at The Oval.
England lost the second Test at Trent Bridge by seven wickets after, by his own admission, India captain Rahul Dravid won a good toss and fielded first.
Left-arm quick Zaheer Khan bowled expertly throughout the match and the India pace bowler was well backed up by his batsmen as they consolidated the first innings advantage he'd created.
But the days when one defeat would prompt mass changes to an England cricket team appear to be a thing of a past.
And with all-rounder Andrew Flintoff in the early stages of a comeback from ankle surgery and fast bowler Matthew Hoggard unlikely to be able to prove his fitness in time following back trouble, there are few outstanding alternatives to the 12-man squad picked for Trent Bridge.
Hoggard missed the opening two Tests with a back spasm, but was not considered fit enough to have a run-out for Yorkshire in Tuesday's one-day match against Sri Lanka A and has no further match practice available to prove his fitness.
The swing specialist is set to play league cricket this weekend before being reassessed by Yorkshire with a view to playing in the County Champinship match against arch-rivals Lancashire - which starts on Thursday as does the Test.
Leicestershire fast bowler Stuart Broad, still to make his Test debut after being leapfrogged in the pecking order by fellow giant quick Chris Tremlett - who impressed at Trent Bridge - could replace James Anderson.
The Oval tends to favour tall pacemen who can generate sharp bounce and swing bowler Anderson, one of several players on both sides who let themselves down with verbal abuse during an ill-tempered match at Trent Bridge, is vulnerable after a return of one for 157 in 42 overs in helpful conditions.
Broad's inclusion would also strengthen England's lower order batting. At Trent Bridge, England's last five wickets fell for 51 and 68 in the first and second innings respectively.
"Some people have missed out but I think everyone is playing pretty good cricket but we need to think about things and make a decision," said England coach Peter Moores.
England have been unbeaten in 11 home series, comprising 41 Tests, since losing the 2001 Ashes.
India are now eyeing their first series success in England since 1986 and only third overall.
Up until three years ago India had won only one series out of 19 against major Test opposition on foreign soil since their last triumph in England.
But victory in Pakistan was followed up last year by a 1-0 win in a four-match series in the West Indies and beating England, ranked the world's second-best Test side behind Australia, on their own turf would be a notable achievement for India.