Ian Bell on England's fifth Test against India
The loss at the Oval will really hurt England. They had windows of opportunity to win the game and when you’re playing the best team in the world, you have to be ruthless, which unfortunately England weren’t.
Ultimately though, India thoroughly deserved to win. The game management in that final innings was outstanding and Jaspit Bumrah’s spell when he took the wickets of Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow was exceptional.
For all the talk of the flat pitch, Bumrah showed what a serious operator he is. When you’ve got the pace he has, and able to combine it with reverse swing, you’re in business. He’s so good he takes the pitch out of the equation and, as a batsman, starting against the reverse swinging ball going both ways is the hardest thing you can do.
Personally I think it’s gone a little under the radar just how good a spell that was. I can’t think of many better in recent times. And Kohli showed some shrewd captaincy by being patient in unleashing him just at the right time.
If India do indeed go on to win the series 3-1 (3.60), which you’d have to say looks quite likely, you’d also be hard-pressed to argue they didn’t do it the hard way.
They’ve lost three out of the four coin tosses and have had the toughest of the first innings conditions we’ve seen in the series. In fact, the only toss India won was at Headingley, which is always a ground you don’t mind losing the toss at. It’s a tough place to bat and having a bowl first can certainly work in your favour, as England showed in the third Test.
What England must do
For England to win at Old Trafford (2.62) and draw the series with the world’s best Test team, we need a few things to happen.
Obviously we can’t just rely on Joe Root’s runs with that bat and we need some big first innings runs throughout the team.
There’s a lot of talk about Jimmy Anderson being rested given how many overs he’s bowled, but for me, you have to play your best bowler. We need to win, simple as that.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ravi Ashwin come and India go with two spinners. I think it’ll be a pretty flat pitch that will take spin, especially given the roasting weather we’ve had going into it.
Finally, it was great to see Chris Woakes back in an England shirt. He made England look a better side, both with the bat and ball.
Both teams this series have shown they can bounce back after a defeat and hopefully we see a repeat of that and the series finishes on a real high.