England is on the verge, in Test against India, of putting to bed one of the most trying chapters in its cricket history.
M S Dhoni's India could still extend it, however, in the fifth and final test at the Oval starting on Friday.
A summer for England that began with a first ever test series defeat on home soil to Sri Lanka worsened when India won the second test at Lord's to lead this series 1-0. With his captaincy and position on the line, and at risk of losing his main bowler, Alastair Cook led his side's fightback at the Rose Bowl and Old Trafford to be in front 2-1.
Humiliated by an innings and 54-run defeat at Old Trafford, India can still save face by winning the final test and tying the series. Here are five things to know ahead of the match:
ALI HAS INDIA IN A SPIN: Moeen Ali, again, was the second-innings star for England in the Old Trafford test, taking 4-39 as India was bowled out for 161. His performance followed match-winning, second-innings figures of 6-67 at the Rose Bowl. The lack of an obvious replacement for the retired Graeme Swann led England at the start of the series to go for an unbalanced all-pace attack and pick Ali as a batsman who could spin a bit. But his offspin has emerged as a major weapon, an unexpected bonus for England, and covered up for his batting weakness against pace bowling. His 19 wickets in the series are second only to Ray Illingworth's 20 in 1967 by an England spinner at home against India.
INDIA TOP ORDER YET TO FIRE: Despite half of day two being lost to rain, the fourth test was won by England in three days, as it bowled India out for 152 and 161. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was furious with his side's effort, and hinted he had been unhappy with his vaunted batsmen throughout the series. ``To some extent, the performance of No. 8, 9, 10 and 11 so far in the series has camouflaged the question of the top order not performing,'' Dhoni said. The biggest disappointment has been No. 4 Virat Kohli, who has a career average of 40 but a series average of 14. His shortcomings have been a big factor in India's inability to create scoreboard pressure.
ANDERSON TARGETS BOTHAM RECORD: James Anderson is eight wickets away from overtaking Ian