Context: It took Virat Kohli 38 games to field an unchanged XI in consecutive Tests. But, after conceding the series 3-1, Kohli will be forced to chop and change in the quest of winning the final Test. It may be inconsequential to the series result but pride and morale ahead of the tour of Australia later this year are at stake for India. Prithvi Shaw is likely to debut and Ravindra Jadeja, who sat out for all four Tests, might finally get his chance.
England are getting ready to give Alastair Cook a memorable swansong who will sign off from international cricket after 12 glorious years for England. Despite the series already in the bag, Joe Root has chosen to retain an unchanged XI for The Oval Test which will kick off from Friday (September 7). No side wants to take their foot off from the pedal which underlines the level of competitiveness on display in this series.
Under the microscope
With the series already decided, the focus will now shift on a few players who have had underwhelming performances in this series. Two such players:
Keaton Jennings: After scoring a dogged 36 in the second essay of the Ageas Bowl Test, Jennings has managed to keep his spot for this game, but only just. The opener has tallied only 130 runs in seven innings at 18.57 during this series and knows that he will be under immense scrutiny during this Test. With the series result no longer on the line, he needs to play a big innings which might turn out to be a career-defining one.
Shikhar Dhawan: The left-hander, like Jennings, finds himself at the crossroads. With Australia looming large, this Test might well turn out to be a virtual audition for that tour for Dhawan. In six innings, Dhawan has averaged 26.33 with no scores in excess of fifty. To his credit, he has got starts in every stint at the crease but it is high time he coverts them into a big knock and address doubts over his effectiveness in alien conditions.
Cook will be in the spotlight in England's last fixture at home this year. He will bat freely and hope to enthral everyone with a typical stubborn innings to draw the curtain on a legendary career. None of this will affect India who will be out to prove a point. Spin might play a big role yet again in this game which means India will have their work cut out. On the basis of what has happened in this captivating series, England will yet again start this game as the favourites.