England vs. India 4th Test: match preview, team news and TV details

England select Moeen Ali and Sam Curran for the match in Southampton

England vs. India 4th Test Ageas Bowl
England won the toss and batted first at The Ageas Bowl against India
(Image credit: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

England have made two changes to the XI that was thrashed by India last week in the third Test at Trent Bridge, recalling Moeen Ali and Sam Curran at the expense of Ollie Pope and Chris Woakes.

Jonny Bairstow, who broke his finger in Nottingham, will play as a specialist batsman and moves up to No.4 in the order, with Jos Buttler taking over the wicketkeeping duties. Play starts today at 11am at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

Ali comes back

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Woakes has been omitted because of a thigh strain while the 20-year-old Pope returns to the county game to gain more experience after his difficult time at Trent Bridge. The pressure will be on Moeen to perform in his first Test of the summer after his slump in form last year.

“He seems in a really good place and that’s a good sign for England moving forward,” England captain Joe Root told Sky Sports, when asked to explain Moeen’s selection. “I’m really pleased for him because he’s obviously gone away and worked really hard at his game.”

Openers under pressure

Also in the spotlight will be the opening pair of Keaton Jennings and Alastair Cook, who retain the faith of the selectors despite mustering just 174 runs between them in six innings so far against India.

Cook averages 35 over the past 12 months - thanks in the main to a pair of double hundreds (against West Indies at Edgbaston last summer and a record-breaking 244 not out against Australia in December).

The knock in the fourth Test in Melbourne was memorable but it was made when the Ashes had already been lost, and in the previous Tests against the Aussies when it mattered Cook had scored only 83 runs.

Sharma’s bunny

Against India this summer Cook has scored 80 runs at an average of 16 and worryingly he seems to be Ishant Sharma’s bunny.

The Indian quick bowler has dismissed him three times in three Tests, zeroing in on the Englishman’s weak area outside the off-stump.

In all Sharma has claimed the scalp of Cook 11 times in Test matches (second only to South Africa’s Morne Morkel, who has dismissed Cook on 12 occasions) and the veteran opener desperately needs a big score at the Rose Bowl this week - as does his country, whose lead in the five-Test series has been reduced to 2-1.

Anderson edges nearer

If Cook is battling to save his career, England’s other veteran, James Anderson, is striving to become the leading fast bowling wicket-taker in Test match history.

Currently with 557 scalps to his name, the 36-year-old Anderson is six shy of Glenn McGrath’s record, set during 124 Tests between 1993 and 2007.

The Aussie paceman had a better strike rate than Anderson - who has played 141 Tests - but McGrath had only generous words about the possibility of losing his record to the “Burnley Express”.

“I’ve been very proud to have taken more wickets than any fast bowler in Test history, but any high is there to be beaten and I will be equally proud of Jimmy when he goes past me because the fast bowlers’ union has to stick together, whichever country we come from,” McGrath said in the Daily Mail.

“I have an awful lot of respect for Jimmy. Good luck to him. I believe once he goes past me he will never be beaten.”

Toughest job in the game

Anderson made his Test debut against Zimbabwe at Lord’s in 2003 and to have played a further 140 Tests is testament to his fitness and durability. He has bowled 31,065 balls, more than any other pace bowler in Test history, and McGrath is in awe of his longevity.

“Being a fast bowler is the toughest job in the game,” he said. “We put ourselves through a lot more pain than anyone else. So for Anderson to still be at the top of his game after 15 years in international cricket and with so many overs under his belt just shows his work ethic and his physical and mental strength.”

England vs. India 4th Test

Team news

  • England team: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson
  • India team: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah

How to watch on TV

Coverage starts on Sky Sports Cricket at 10am today. Play starts at 11am.

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