Expect fireworks as Bumrah-led India try to meet England's 'Baz-ball' revolution head-on

The visitors may opt for all-out attack against Ben Stokes and Co

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The Baz-ball revolution may be in its infancy, but it has already achieved something significant. Everyone is talking about England’s new game plan for storming Test cricket.

So much so, it has relegated all the usual headliners to mere footnotes. When England and India started their five-Test series last year, it felt like the latest instalment of the Virat Kohli v James Anderson saga.

Now, in the build up to the postponed fifth Test, which starts at Edgbaston on Friday, mentions of both have been fleeting.

Anderson will line up for the home team, in place of Jamie Overton, after overcoming the niggling injury that kept him out of England’s win over New Zealand at Headingley.

Run-shy Kohli will be bidding to end a run of 74 innings without an international hundred. He will not, this time, be burdened by the captaincy.

The fourth-Test win over England at The Oval last year was the last of Kohli’s tenure as India captain.

Even in times of need, he will not be called upon. India have handed the armband on to fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah after Rohit Sharma, the new permanent incumbent, failed to recover from Covid-19 in time to make the starting XI.

England train for 5th Test against India at Edgbaston - in pictures

KL Rahul, the opener who combined so well with Rohit to give India a 2-1 advantage in this series last summer, is also missing with a groin injury.

Both sides are changed vastly now. Just four of England’s starting XI from the fourth Test at the Oval last year have survived to play in the fifth – Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow and Anderson.

And yet, more than the personnel, what feels most pertinent is the mindset change they exhibited in their 3-0 win over world Test champions New Zealand this month.

England scored at nearly five runs an over in beating the Black Caps at Headingley. When they faced India last, their second innings scoring rate was less than half that.

The homes side’s transformation during the tenure of new captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum – which is, admittedly, just one series old – has been startling.

Bumrah’s first task as India captain will be to try to quell the assault of a revived English batting line up.

Given his own personal capabilities with the ball, his best form of defence might be all-out attack as well. Expect fireworks.

England v New Zealand 3rd Test, Day 5 - in pictures

And, even though by the end it seemed as though they were on a flat track given the way they steamrollered New Zealand, Stokes says his side will adopt the same method against India.

“Just because the opposition changes does not mean we change,” Stokes, who missed last summer because of injury and personal issues, said in his eve-of-Test press conference.

“I think what we managed to do over the last three weeks is just reshape Test cricket with the way we played.

“We want people to enjoy us watching play. I think people are enjoying watching us play because they do not know what they are going to get.”

Updated: June 30, 2022, 3:32 PM
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