The fourth Test between India and England in Nagpur is a crucial game for both the sides. For India, it is a chance to win back the support of home fans while England shall look to go for the kill and shut the opposition out. While the visitors can afford a draw, the hosts face a must-win situation. In short the stakes are high. Here's why?
1. England's quest for a Test series win in India:
28 years is a long time. Since their triumph back in 1984-85, England have tried and failed to beat India on their home soil. Blown away 3-0 in 1993, England lost 1-0 in 2001 when many of their key players refused to tour India citing security concerns post 9/11. In 2006 they drew 1-1, whereas 2008 saw them go down 1-0 after India's epic run chase in Chennai.
England would want to win the end the drought and hence trust them to fire all cylinders against MS Dhoni & Co.
2. India's aim to preserve their home record:
India, on the other hand, have a lot to take care of. Their 'track' record (no pun intended), captain, key players, all are under scrutiny. India have not lost a Test series on the home soil since 2004, when Australia won 2-1 to conquer their 'Final Frontier'.
Since then India have played 13 Test series at home winning 9 and drawing 4. But in Nagpur, nothing less than a win would ensure that their home record remains untarnished.
3. MS Dhoni looking to maintain his home run:
He was the man who won his four Tests as captain. Till the tour of England in 2011, he had lost only 3 Tests and never lost a series as a skipper. That changed after the tour of England and Australia last year. But despite the mauling he got in England and Australia, his home record remains intact. As Dhoni leads his team on to the field in Nagpur, he will be fighting for his domination on home soil.
Dhoni has never lost a Test series at home and he will look to make sure that it does not happen anytime soon. So nothing less than a win shall satisfy the Indian Captain.
4. Alastair Cook's quest for first Test series win as full-time skipper:
Alastair Cook won his first Test series as skipper in 2010 in Bangladesh. But back then he was a stand-in captain as Andrew Strauss was not in the team. In his first assignment as a full time captain the southpaw is keen to create history in India. And what better way to start than by beating the world champions in their own den and that too comprehensively.
So the numbers are out and it's now a battle of will power in Nagpur. One team is fighting for its pride and self-belief, and the other is looking to win its greatest conquest. With a lot to play for, both teams know that they will come hard at each other. The English are aware how dangerous India are when their backs are against the wall while the Indians expect the English not to ease up even the slightest.
What the public can hope for is some top quality cricket between a team known to be lethal in home conditions and a team that has the capability to take on the world's best anytime. With so much at stake, one expects an intense battle. So sit back and watch Nagpur become the stage for an exciting contest.