Just because another Australian Summer of cricket draws to a close doesn’t mean the cricket action has to stop and we are in for an absolute treat here. We make our way to India as the home side will host England in a mouth-watering four test series.
India will head into this series with a massive amount of confidence after a famous series win in Australia against our Aussies. With a depleted squad decimated by injuries and other factors, India showed a huge amount of fight and will be keen to put this into practice back on home soil. The return of their skipper and number one batsman in the world Virat Kohli will be a massive boost to a side who already boast an incredible home record in test matches.
England will have it all to do over the next four test matches, with the hosts having not lost a series in India since 2012. Like the home side however, England also come into this in strong form having easily beaten Sri Lanka in both matches of a two-test series last month. As always, Joe Root will be the key to the tourist’s batting lineup, with many of his teammates inexperienced and unproven against quality spin bowling overseas.
I think India will be extremely hard to beat in the series with Virat and his men keen to make a statement in this first test. Having not played at home for many months now, India will be keen to bring their overseas form back home and put on a show for their cricket-loving nation.
MA Chindabaram Stadium, Chennai - Friday 3pm AEDT
India Squad: Virat Kohli (c, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Ravi Ashwin, Axar Patel, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, KL Rahul, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Shama, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur
England Squad: Joe Root (c, Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence, Dom Sibley, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Ben Foakes, Ollie Pope, Jofra Archer, James Anderson, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Olly Stone
As mentioned, India have not lost a test series at home for almost 9 years so it is hard to see a relatively inexperienced English side cause an upset here. I am pretty confident that India can win this first test comfortably and roll onto a series win. All signs point to an India victory here in Chennai with the return of their skipper Virat Kohli and the tourist’s lack of exposure to bowlers in these conditions making it hard to see any other result.
India were simply incredible in their recent tour out here in Australia and managed to win the series 2-1. This included a famous win at the Gabba where they were without Kohli, Ashwin, Bumrah and Sharma who you would expect to all be selected to play here in this series opener. Kohli, who averages a tick over 70 across 9 matches against England on home soil, will return to the side following the birth of his first child so you can expect him to be fired up and ready to go after missing India’s last couple of matches.
England also come into this having to go through quarantine since arriving from their tour of Sri Lanka and will face the uphill task of coming up against a fresh-faced Indian team who love playing at home. Excluding Joe Root, England’s batting lineup performed solid at best against a much weaker opponent in Sri Lanka with their opening batsmen struggling and a lot of question marks surrounding the makeup of the side. Root was incredible in the Sri Lankan series, scoring 228 in the first test and then backing it up with 186 in the second test to lead his team to victory. Root is well equipped against spin in these conditions and has played well in India in the past. Can his teammates offer him enough support to keep the tourist’s competitive?
I’ve mentioned him numerous times throughout the piece, but it is so hard to ignore the incredible record that Virat Kohli has in his home country. He averages a massive 64.68 when playing in India and that boosts up to 70 when you look at the last five times he has played against England in India.
He also comes into this match after a nice break away from cricket for the birth of his first child and you can guarantee a man like Kohli will be itching to get back in the middle amongst the action. Many of the English bowlers have not had much experience playing in India and will take some time to adjust to the difference in wickets they are use to.
Kohli commands all the attention in this Indian batting lineup and I am confident he can lead from the front in this match and help his side to a win in this important first test.
Similarly to the Indian skipper, Joe Root has a great record in India and is one of the few batsmen in the side who have a decent amount of experience playing in these conditions. Root averages over 50 in his last five matches here in India and will need to be at the top of his game if his side are any chance of causing an upset victory.
As mentioned earlier, the captain will also take some massive confidence into this series after playing out if his skin against Sri Lanka last month. Root averaged a massive 106.5 across the two-test series where he posted a double century and then a century to lead the way for his team. It can be argued the rest of the English batsmen had a disappointing series and will need to lift as they come up against one of the best bowling units in test cricket.
I love the fact that Root has plenty of experience playing in India and comes into this in some of the best form of his career. It looks an obvious choice but a reasonably safe one to kick off our selections for the four-test series.
I’ve also had a look at some of the prop bets available for the whole series and I am pretty keen on one. The two guys I have mentioned above look to be the key to both team’s chances and I think they will fight it out to be the top run scorer in the series. With that being said I was happy to see a top run scorer double on offer for both sides and at the price it looks a good play.
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