It is the biggest test of character for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men. The Indian team has never fared so poorly in a home Test series and calls to axe the captain and some senior players are growing louder by the day.
Thus, it’s going to be a perform or perish situation when they take on England in the fourth and final Test, which starts on Thursday in Nagpur. Victory will enable India tie the series 2-2, while defeat will consign them to a 3-1 loss, their first in a Test series at home in eight years.
With the leading batsmen struggling to get runs, and bowlers finding it hard against the in-form English batting line-up, India’s big hopes rest largely on the pitch.
The wicket, which was left open to dry under the blazing sun for the last two days, is devoid of grass and looks pale. There is a strong possibility that it will offer a lot of assistance to the spinners from day one, though the curator and his staff have tried to convince that they have prepared a sporting wicket.
Dhoni gave a strong hint of going in with three spinners to take advantage of the dry wicket at the VCA stadium in Jamtha. With leg-spinner Piyush Chawla set to make a Test comeback and partner R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma will be the lone pace bowler.
“We could play three spinners. If you weigh the pacers and spinners and see what might play a bigger role, there will be some reverse swing. So we will have to see what we go in with. Maybe, an additional spinner will be more effective in the second innings. We will have to wait and see,” Dhoni said, on Wednesday.
His analysis of the pitch was clear cut.
“The wicket looks good; it is quite hard. How it behaves will depend on that. It is a composition of black soil.”