Players who will make a difference.. (From left) Mohammed Shami and Cheteshwar Pujara of India, Alastair Cook and James Anderson of England © Getty Images and AFP
By Abhijit Banare
Jul 8, 2014
It is the first five-Test series India are playing since 2002. India are still searching for an overseas win under MS Dhoni since 2011. And now they begin their tour against a team who first began the downward slide by whitewashing them 4-0 in 2011. Yet all these remain statistics for a new look team which takes on England at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.
The MS Dhoni-led side has maintained a low profile since the time they’ve landed here. They have been under pressure for his performances overseas in the longest format, Dhoni is well aware that this is a perfect opportunity to turn things around. Having lost to Sri Lanka 1-0, England have looked shaky with their revamped look after the winter Ashes debacle.
If the performances in the tour games are anything to go by, the team management might still. Last time around, they juggled with too many opening options at the top and failures only kept pegging them back. Chosen as the third opener, Gautam Gambhir might remain that way as Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay will continue like they did in the previous two overseas Test series. There does not seem to be much change after that: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli occupying No 3 and No 4 spot respectively. Ajinkya Rahane at No 5. If India does opt for five bowlers, Dhoni will bat up the order at No 6 with Rohit Sharma being made to sit out.
The bowling does not look as certain as the batting. Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are certainties in the pace department and so does Ravindra Jadeja. If at all India opt to pick a fifth bowler, Stuart Binny or Ravichandran Ashwin will be in contention. With seam and swing bowling yielding results in this part of the world, the all-rounder who sizzled in Bangladesh might just get his maiden Test cap.
India’s record in the first Test overseas hasn’t been impressive either. And if we look at starts in England in particular, India have started with a loss in 13 of the 16 Tests, winning one and the remaining two ending in draws.
Stat: India have started a Test series in England with a win only once out of 16 occasions. They have drawn two and have lost the other 13.
Despite numbers not in their favour, this young Indian team will be eager to push England who are yet to find their feet. Despite the loss to Lanka, it was expected that they would give another chance to Alastair Cook and his new look side. Hence the overall squad is pretty much the same except for the inclusion of Ben Stokes. Against Lanka, the batsmen showed their mettle in patches and it will be about a collective performance to shine through.
If there’s anything that looks settled in the English camp, it is their bowling. James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Liam Plunkett areformidable trio. England will still be concerned about Anderson’s fitness to last five Tests and a rotation policy can’t be ruled out as the series progresses.
Stat: James Anderson is the highest wicket-taker in the history of Trent Bridge with 49 wickets in 7 matches. However, in the 2 matches against India he averages 85.
Another area to watch out for is the captaincy. Both Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni have come under criticism for their defensive captaincy. It’s Cook who will be under more pressure as the runs haven’t been coming for him as well.
If England had won the series against Sri Lanka, the odds would have still been in favour of the hosts. But the defeat to Lanka gives the other Asian giant enough confidence. The pitch at Trent Bridge is not likely to be as notorious like before filled withgreen tinge.
The elusive victory continues to haunt England, while India haven’t been good starters. On paper, India’s batting and England’s bowling looks stronger than their respective counterparts. There’s lot to look forward to for both teams in terms of captaincy, individual performances and managing pressure.
India: MS Dhoni (c&wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Varun Aaron, Pankaj Singh, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishwar Pandey, Stuart Binny, Mohammed Shami. To read analysis of Indian squad click here
England: Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior (wk), Sam Robson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.
Time: 10:00 GMT I 15: 30 IST
Catch all the coverage of India’s tour to England here
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)