india: The three challenges India may face in their long-awaited Test match against England

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The fifth Test in , originally scheduled for Manchester in September 2021, will begin today with India holding the 2-1 lead. But a lot has changed since then, with India having a new coach in Rahul Dravid and a new captain in Rohit Sharma, who is now unavailable due to Covid-19. ET Sport looks at three key challenges for India, going into the delayed finale:

The bazball

The England Test team was in despair. They were doing great things in white-ball cricket but the Test team was in the pits. They had won only one Test out of the last 17 and lost 11. And then Brendon McCullum arrived. The turnaround couldn’t have been swifter. In the first series they whitewashed the World Test Championship (WTC) winners New Zealand 3-0. More than the series result, though remarkable, it was the manner in which England bulldozed the fourth innings targets: 279/5 in 78.5 overs in the first Test, 299/5 in 50 overs in the second Test, 296/3 in 54.2 overs in the third Test. The fourth innings are considered the toughest and England just ran through the New Zealand bowling line-up like a hot knife in the butter. Many have credited this to the Bazball: a philosophy of relaxed minds, aggressive tactics and positive vibes made popular by Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum during his time as New Zealand

. Now, India will be in the path of the Bazball.

Conditions

England have always been one of the toughest places to tour for the Indian team. The extreme differences in the conditions at home and England are hard to conquer but with time, the players become more comfortable with the conditions. Last summer, India had entered the Test series after spending close to one-and-a-half month in the country, during which they also played the WTC Final against New Zealand. That prepared them well for the Test series, as the 2-1 lead that India now hold suggest. But for the rescheduled Test, they didn’t have that much time. Overcoming conditions will be the biggest challenge in front of India.

Absence and form

India travelled to England without KL Rahul, who got injured ahead of the home T20I series against South Africa. Now, they have also lost the services of Rohit. The two were India’s top scorers last summer. Going into the fifth Test, India aren’t even sure of their second opener. Add to that Virat Kohli’s indifferent form. A lot will depend on Cheteshwar Pujara, who recently enjoyed a stupendous run in the County circuit.



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