The Ashes is still the most anticipated and followed Test series in cricket. On par with it for intensity – if not for popularity – is the England versus India series. The Pataudi Trophy, awarded to the winner of this series, will be contested over a five-match series in England. The top-ranked India will look to bury the ghosts of their overseas debacles, while England will look at the heavens for rain and change of conditions to suit their pacers. All hands on the deck as we move to an exciting series!
It’s true that England have had a poor winter with disastrous tours down under. All that will be history as they look to make the most of getting back to familiar conditions at home. With England witnessing one of the hottest summers of all time there were concerns over the surfaces being hard baked and suiting the Indian spinners more than the English seamers. That will definitely be top of captain Joe Root’s mind, who remains England’s best option with the bat. His ability to score 50s at will, although struggling to convert them to 100s, will be a factor that will be keenly watched.
Opener Alastair Cook’s form at the top remains a question mark, while the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler make them a strong unit. The presence of all-rounders Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali differentiates the hosts from the visitors. With swing bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad leading their attack, England look to have all the bases covered. It will also depend on the conditions, but England look far more balanced than their visitors.
Captain Virat Kohli minced no words in proclaiming that this is one of the biggest series for this squad. Whatever happened in the 2014 series to him – five dismissals to James Anderson and an average of 13 – Kohli is geared up for this series with renewed vigour. Questions remain over their skill to adapt to the swinging ball, especially with their batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara in dicey form. KL Rahul’s emergence as a reliable bat gives Kohli options of using him at the top or in the middle-order.
Bowling will miss Bhuvneshwar Kumar (for three Tests) and Jasprit Bumrah (for at least one Test) as they continue their recuperation from injuries. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, left-arm orthodox bowler Ravindra Jadeja and left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav will be hoping for dry pitches to bring them into play.
- England have won 13 of the 17 series they played at home against India.
- India have lost seven of the last nine Tests they played in England.
- India have won only one Test series in England in the last 31 years.
- One more win will take Kohli past Sourav Ganguly’s tally of 21 Test wins.
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