India to target Bairstow's broken finger in fourth Test


England lead the five-match series 2-1 following India's 203-run victory in the third test at Trent Bridge.

Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat first.

England also have to decide whether to recall off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali, either as a replacement for, or an extra slow bowler in support of, leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

India went with an unchanged playing XI for the first time in 39 tests as they took the field against England in the fourth Test at Southampton on Thursday.

Whether Jonny Bairstow is fit to play at all, never mind wicketkeep, after suffering a broken finger during India's dominant win in the third Test, has still to be decided.

The risk in fielding an injured player was highlighted by India s Mohammed Shami, who said Bairstow would be targeted if he batted at Southampton.

England's Australian coach Trevor Bayliss said the Yorkshireman could play as a specialist batsman, with Jos Buttler taking over behind the stumps.

He stressed that while he has recovered sufficiently to play as a specialist batsman, he is desperate to keep wicket as well, for that's when he is at his best.

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At the slightest suggestion he may be better concentrating exclusively on his batting, Bairstow said: "That's quite a bold statement - because if you look at the stats they suggest I'm better if I keep wicket as well. We've bounced back from hard defeats before and that's the challenge for us to do it again here".

The same bowler removed Stokes soon after with a vicious in-swinger which brought Sam Curran to the crease.

"Not just me, any fast bowler will want to target his weak zone", Shami, as quoted by BBC, said. A defeat in the match would give England a 3-1 series win with a game to spare while a win for the visitors would put the teams level 2-2.

England also have concerns over whether all-rounder Ben Stokes will be able to bowl a full quota of overs because of a knee problem, another factor in Ali's recall in place of Surrey batsman Pope, dropped after just two Tests.

"We've done it time and time again before and we don't expect anything less from the group this time as well". Ishant Sharma has bowled and behaved as the captain of the attack.

On the eve of the fourth Test, the Indian pacer wished luck to Anderson, who at 557 scalps, is only seven short of becoming the highest ever wicket-taker among fast bowlers in worldwide cricket surpassing Glenn McGrath (563 wickets).

"There were a lot of questions asked in my early career as a keeper".

Meanwhile, India captain Virat Kohli senses his side have a chance to seize the moment against England in Southampton.