For a series that had so many moments either won or lost in physical battles, it’s time for 5 long days of mental battles to decide the winner.
For England, three straight wins, series decided, thrashed the opponents in each of matches played, reached the helm of test status and commendable performance from all the players who played in the series be it a batsman’s or bowlers. Without any doubt, there would have been lots of celebration after 3rd test and they fully deserve every penny of it. But they head into the final test match, a dead rubber in the contest of series and their first match after becoming No. 1 for first time ever in their history of cricket, there will be lot of confidence flowing through but won’t be surprised it if turns out to be their enemy.
The challenge for England team now is can they keep continuing their hunting habit? Can they avoid being complacent? Can they put aside their celebration of No. 1 status and focus on the job? Will they try to be extravagant in their attitude after becoming No. 1? Will their confidence turn over-confidence? There lot of questions to look for answers from them in Oval. They might have beaten their opponent in last three matches but this one going to take even more effort than it required in previous occasions. There will be lot of pressure on them to win being No. 1 team and also don’t let the opponent walk away easily with ODI series set to follow.
If over-confidence and compliancy will be a problem for England, then its motivation and inspiration that India will be seeking. India is down and hunted so badly that they not only lost 3 matches in a row but also been dethroned from No. 1 spot by their opponent. When India walks out in Oval today, it will be a beginning of long battle with their minds as they will be searching for leader, a hero who can spring in some drops of inspiration in their blood to last for 5 days of cricket. Dhoni and his boys need to fix this in mind that 3-1 is lot better than 4-0 and a win against No. 1 will heal lots of wounds back in India. English have tasted how a win sweats against No. 1 and now its India’s turn to taste its back.
From billion fans to 11 Indian players, all will be thinking and asked to “play for pride” but as Harsha Bhogle said “must confess have never understood this playing for pride concept. Does it mean you don’t play for pride at other times?” Indian team has lost its pride on the way in their travel to England from IPL.
Match at Oval will be more or less won on the first innings as huge score by English will mount lots of pressure on already bugged Indian players but a good batting from India will set the tone for rest of the tour to follow.