The fifth and final Test match between India and England is set to commence on Thursday at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala. With the series already in their grasp, India aims to further assert their dominance, eyeing valuable points in the World Test Championship standings. Nestled amidst mountains, the HPCA Stadium is renowned for its breathtaking beauty. However, both teams face a challenge adapting to the chilly conditions in Dharamsala.

IND vs ENG Weather Report

Rain could potentially disrupt the opening day of the match, with forecasts indicating a chilly morning followed by showers. Captains will factor in the weather when deciding upon the crucial toss. The inclement weather may persist throughout the day, with thundershowers also predicted for the afternoon, posing challenges for the players. However, the following three days are anticipated to be sunny, much to the delight of cricket enthusiasts, given the high-quality cricket showcased by both teams throughout the series.

India's premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be eyeing a memorable outing in his landmark 100th Test when the unassailable hosts face a fallen England in the finale of what has been a riveting five-match series, on Thursday. ('There Was Guy Called Rishabh Pant,' Rohit Sharma Takes Witty Dig At Ben Duckett's Bazball Comment For Yashasvi Jaiswal)

Now Playing R Ashwin in Cinemascope #TeamIndia #INDvENG @ashwinravi99 @IDFCFIRSTBank

Click on the link to watch the BCCI (@BCCI) March 6, 2024

India maintained their jealous record at home by sealing the series in Ranchi and now, they will be looking for another favorable result to extend their lead in World Test Championships standings. The pitch and the cold weather, that is making the English feel at home, have been the two big talking points going into the game. The maximum temperature is expected to hover around 10 degrees for the opening two days before rising over the weekend.

The pitch were a flat look on the eve of the game but the moisture seeped beneath will keep the pacers interested in the early hours of play on all days. Though traditionally, the venue favors fast bowlers, the role of spinners can't be discounted and they did play a big part in India's win over Australia in the one and only Test played here back in 2017.

In the recently held four Ranji Trophy games, the teams were able to score 300 plus on multiple occasions with the highest total of the season being 482 posted by Baroda. Ashwin and Jonny Bairstow, both of whom will make their 100th Test appearance on Thursday, expressed contrasting views on the surface going the match. Bairstow found the pitch 'nice' while Ashwin said both teams will be entering unknown territory considering the cold weather.

India are, however, unlikely to tinker with their bowling combination of two pacers and three spinners. Jasprit Bumrah will return to bolster the attack with Mohammed Siraj being the second pacer. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, who has been able to play only 11 Tests since making a successful debut back here in 2017, will share the duties in the spin department.

KL Rahul not regaining full fitness even for this game could provide another opportunity to the struggling Rajat Patidar, who has found bizarre ways to get out in his debut series, aggregating only 63 runs in six innings at number four. The game could be his one last chance to keep a place in the squad.

Devdutt Padikkal, who is a top-order batsman, is another option that the team management has in the middle-order. Two-Test-old Sarfaraz Khan could not score big in Ranchi after a stellar debut in Rajkot and he will be desperate to make it big before the red ball season comes to a close.

The rest of the batters have also made their presence felt over the course of five games especially Yashasvi Jaiswal, who is within touching distance of becoming the second Indian after the great Sunil Gavaskar to amass 700 runs in a series.

Mental fatigue hasn't set in as England aim to end the tour on a high. England have already lost the series, their first in the 'Bazball' era, but there is still plenty to play for before they return home after a long tour.

Bairstow's 100th Test milestone will be celebrated through the week and by the looks of it, the England cricketers are enjoying in this scenic town with the cold weather adding to their comfort. (IND vs ENG 5th Test: Rohit Sharma Makes Big Statement On Playing 11 As Rajat Patidar Is Likely To Play In Dharamsala)

The right-hander has been well below par in the series and would be aiming to make his 100th Test outing an unforgettable one by regaining his lost form. England fans have also arrived here in big numbers, giving the players another reason to come up with a special performance.

“I don't think that anyone is thinking like that,” Ben Stokes said on Tuesday when asked if players are already thinking about returning home.

“We feel every opportunity to play for England is special. That's just our mentality and our mindset, regardless of where you are, or how long you've been away. But that shouldn't take away from the fact that this place is pretty special,” the skipper told the traveling British media.

England, who went with only one specialist pacer at the start of the series and had two of them featuring in the last game, will continue with the latter formula here too.

Veteran James Anderson will partner Mark Wood, who will replace Ollie Robinson. Shoaib Bashir, who is nursing a sore spinning finger, and Tom Hartley, have come of age in their debut series and will be the two specialist spinners.

Squads:India: Rohit Sharma (C), Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (WK), KS Bharat (WK), Devdutt Padikkal, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep.

England XI: Ben Stokes (C), Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, James Anderson, Shoaib Bashir. (With PTI inputs)