Alastair Cook’s side will be disappointed at finding themselves with a 2-1 series deficit as India and England prepare to face each other in Mohali for the fourth time this winter (6.30am GMT, Wednesday).
The fact is that the tourists have been poor since their opening victory in this cricket series while the hosts have improved tremendously and have displayed greater batting in depth.
Having already won a relatively comfortable opening match, England do offer some good value but can they improve enough to take the win and keep this series alive?
As I’d argued previously, the problem for Cook’s side is a reliance on the top four to build a solid platform of runs for the middle order. Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Cook himself are under huge pressure to make something in excess of 200 before the numbers 5,6, and 7 come in.
If the top four succeed then the likes of Samit Patel, Craig Kieswetter and Joe Root can go on to build a huge total but if they fail, the middle order tend to crumble with them. That seems to suggest that England will consider one important change in personnel ahead of this match.
Wicket keeper Kieswetter is the man who is struggling more than anyone so expect his county colleague Jos Buttler to come in and replace him. Buttler isn’t a regular gloveman but he can do an adequate job behind the stumps and more importantly, he seems a better candidate to succeed with the bat.
Another team change could come in the bowling attack where England’s seam unit are lacking penetration. The tourists’ best bowler by far has been Kent off spinner James Tredwell so expect the left arm spin of Danny Briggs to replace one of the quicker bowlers.
There are no real concerns for an Indian side who have improved steadily as the series has progressed. Virat Kohli was the one man badly out of form but his 77 on Saturday was a welcome return and it also means that there are few, if any weaknesses ahead of Wednesday’s crucial contest.
In contrast to England, India’s middle order is firing with Dhoni and Ravi Jadeja making significant contributions with the bat when required. The top batsmen are all finding their touch while the bowling attack continues to perform well as a unit.
Once again, the key to the whole match lies with those top four English batsmen but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they all have to make runs in this game. Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen all made international one day hundreds in 2012 and if any of the three can make three figures, then the side can post or chase down a big score.
However, in this fourth match in Mohali it’s likely that an English side low on confidence will struggle again and what promised to be a hard fought series will be comfortably sealed with another emphatic Indian victory.
This Preview’s Betting Tip: India to win at 8/15 with Stan James.