The Men in Blue have been in England since the 3rd of June. Looking back, it has been a ride to remember. The tour started with a heartbreak against New Zealand. Four test matches and two and a half months later, the Indian team is a match away from scripting history.
After much speculation and COVID concerns, the fifth and final test match between India and England is all set to go ahead as scheduled.
Old Trafford, Manchester, will be waiting as both teams take the field with two very different motivations. England heads into the final test with a lot on their shoulders. A draw isn't an option for them if they want to win the series.
For India, it's about winning a Test series in England after 14 long years.
Knowing the venue
Old Trafford is England's den. A fortress that India hasn't managed to break to date. In nine test matches that the two sides have come face to face, England has won four of them. The remaining five ended in a draw.
2014 was the last time India played England at Old Trafford. The Men in Blue lost the match by an innings and 54 runs. Traditionally, the ground has favoured the teams batting first.
Out of the 82 test matches played at this venue, 32 have been won by the teams batting first. Bowling first, the teams have only managed to win 15 times.
Now here's the catch, rain is predicted for the first two days of the test match. Win the toss and bat first should be a no brainer, but if the conditions are overcast, teams will be tempted to bowl first.
Joe Root has been in the form of his life, and Old Trafford is where he scored most runs among the English batsmen. The England captain has piled on 781 runs at an average of 65.08 at this venue.
James Anderson is second only to Stuart Broad, with 31 scalps in nine test matches.
Team combination - India
India has a few injury concerns. Rohit Sharma wasn't on the ground during England's second innings in the last test match because of a knee injury. Cheteshwar Pujara, on other hand, has an ankle injury. Although, both of these injuries don't seem serious enough to warrant their absence from the playing 11.
During The Hundred, the ground offered tracks that were conducive to spin. If the pitch wears a sluggish look on Friday morning, expect Ravichandran Ashwin to finally don the whites.
Unless the team management decides to rest someone else, no further changes are expected. But, don't be surprised if India fields the same playing 11, and continues with Jadeja as the lone spin option.
Team combination - England
The England team will welcome back the services of both Jos Buttler and Mark Wood. England coach, Chris Silverwood, said they have to make sure they look after James Anderson.
Considering the stakes for England, it will be a big decision to rest Anderson. Given his exploits in the last match. Ollie Pope is expected to retain his place. Jonny Bairstow, in all likelihood, will face the cut.
It has been a series of the highest quality. The final face-off promises to be a cracker of a contest. Expect nothing less than a thriller.