England and India will play the 5th Test this Friday at Edgbaston, a one-off match that concludes the Series that started last summer but was postponed.
Here’s all you need to know about the Series, why it was postponed, the latest team news and of course, the all-important betting odds ahead of the match.
Why are England and India playing a one-off Test?
Strictly speaking, it’s not a one-off Test. The Series was poised at 2-1 to India last summer when there was an outbreak of Covid in the Indian camp.
With the IPL (which itself had been suspended due to Covid issues) just about to start, the BCCI decided it simply couldn’t risk restarting the T20 event with the risk of India’s big-name players not being able to play for the first couple of weeks should they have got Covid.
After much deliberation (England were initially awarded a win in the Fifth Test), the ICC decided the best solution was to conclude the Series the following year. So here we are.
What’s the current state of the Series?
It’s 2-1 to India.
After a draw at Trent Bridge, India went 1-0 up at Lord’s after England were all out for just 120 chasing 272.
But England fought back to win at Headingley after posting a big 432 and only batting once.
England dismissed India for just 78 and then 278 to win by an innings and 76 runs.
But it was all India again at The Oval.
Despite being bowled out for just 191 in the first innings, they then posted 466 including a superb 127 by Rohit Sharma. Chasing 368, England were all out for 210 after a good start.
Despite their 2-1 lead, there was some controversy surrounding India’s non-inclusion of Ravi Ashwin.
Ranked the Number 2 Test bowler in the world at the time and with five Test centuries to his name, India preferred to go with the three-dimensional Ravindra Jadeja instead, as their main spinner.
When and where will the Fifth Test take place?
The Fifth Test will be at Edgbaston in Birmingham and will run from Friday July 1 at 14:30 IST to July 5.
It’s a quick turnaround for England, whose Third Test against New Zealand only finished on Monday. They won the Series 3-0.
Are there any significant changes in the sides?
Since playing and winning that Fourth Test last summer, India have replaced Virat Kohli as skipper with Rohit Sharma after Kohli resigned the captaincy following a Series defeat in South Africa at the start of 2022.
They also have a different head coach in place with Rahul Dravid taking over from Ravi Shastri in November 2021.
Plenty of change in the England camp, too.
Ben Stokes was appointed the new skipper after Joe Root’s resignation following a Series defeat in the West Indies and Brendon McCullum came in as the Test coach when Chris Silverwood was sacked following a heavy defeat in the recent Ashes Series over the winter.
That Stokes/McCullum partnership has started extremely well, playing attacking and winning cricket against New Zealand.
How have India prepared for the game?
India played a warm-up match against Leicestershire in the week before the Test. But this was no ordinary match.
In an attempt to get as much practice time as possible under their belts, Chet Pujara and Rishabh Pant played for Leicestershire, Ravindra Jadeja batted twice in the same innings (remarkably scoring exactly 56 not out on both occasions) and Shreyas iyer also batted twice in the same innings.
Like Jadeja, he also scored the same number of runs in both innings (32).
All of Jadeja, Pant (76), Srikhar Barat (70), Virat Kohli (67) and Shubman Gill (62) scored half-centuries with the bowlers sharing the wickets around.
The match ended a draw but that’s almost an irrelevance with the Indian players getting some much-needed game time in English conditions.
Are India at full strength?
The only player who would have almost certainly played who isn’t available is vice-captain KL Rahul.
Rahul missed the recent T20 Series against South Africa with a persistent groin injury and is in the process of having surgery on it in Germany.
But there are also a couple of Covid-related cases that have created a headache for coach Rahul Dravid.
Ravi Ashwin arrived late in the UK after getting Covid in India and played a part in the warm-up match, taking two wickets in the fourth innings. But he’s no certainty to play in the game anyway.
As per above, last year India preferred to go with Jadeja and given they’re unlikely to play two spinners, it could be a straight shootout between the two of them for a place in the side.
But they also have an issue with the skipper.
Rohit Sharma also tested positive for Covid on Saturday and is in a race against time to be available to play the match.
If he doesn’t make it, Mayank Agarwal will play after traveling to the UK on an emergency basis.
KL Rahul is the official vice-captain and is unavailable so Pant would be favourite to lead if Sharma isn’t able to play.
What are the England v India 5th Test betting odds?
Pari Match have England as 2.1 favourites, with India out at 2.7 and the draw available at 4.49.
And here’s our Pari Match review, by the way.
There’s some rain forecast for most of the five days at Edgbaston but nothing too bad.
England will have plenty of supporters at those odds given the incredible turnaround in their performances over the past month or so against New Zealand.
They not only won 3-0 against the World Test champions but played positive, fearless cricket along the way.
They have in-form players with both bat and ball. That includes Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, who each hit two centuries and a fifty in those three games and Ollie Pope, who struck a century and a further 82.
With the ball, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jack Leach and Matthew Poots all took at least 11 wickets in the New Zealand Series.
As for India, in addition to some injury/Covid concerns, their biggest challenge will be getting used to English conditions quickly.
We’ll have a full preview of the Fifth Test available later on in the week.