India head into the fourth Test at Southampton aiming to do the impossible – to come back from 2-1 down to win a series in England. It is a feat achieved only once before by Don Bradman’s Australia in 1936/37.
In home conditions it’s hard to overcome England, especially if the visiting team loses early in the series. All successful tours in England have been won off a strong start. Only once has a visiting team lost more than twice in a series win.
Ageas Bowl, the venue for the fourth Test, has hosted only two international Test matches so far.
Incidentally, India lost by 266 runs during their last visit here in 2014. Ajinkya Rahane scored fifties in both innings, but the English batsmen piled on an almost insurmountable 444-run target that kept the visitors out of the running for most of the match.
Since the international statistics are slim pickings, county cricket may give us a better indicator of how well teams do here.
Since May 2001, it has hosted 148 matches. Hampshire have won 41 Tests and drawn 72 making it a pretty good home turf for the English team.
Of all the Test venues in England, it also has the highest runs per wicket average - 34.10 - for first class cricket during this county season.
India will know the feeling quite well as they were clobbered for a first innings score of 569 in 2014.
But India too will look towards its batsmen to deliver in Southampton. All members got some runs off the bat in Trent Bridge. Virat Kohli in particular has moved to another gear. His purple patch has seen him rise to the highest batting rating by Indians in the ICC rankings. He’s currently ranked 11th on the all-time list.
The bowlers have it slightly tougher in Southampton. Pacers have taken 122 wickets at an average of 30.97 while spinners have taken 23 wickets at an average of 33.86 this season. But, this could backfire as England seamer James Anderson looks to overtake Glenn McGrath to become the most successful fast bowler in history. Currently, the English paceman trails the Aussie by seven wickets.
Like Kohli, Anderson is playing the best cricket of his life. He’s now the 19th greatest bowler according to the ICC rankings and the highest ranked bowler over the last two years.