India look the better of the two sides: former England captain Ray Illingworth
Virat Kohli's India trail 1-2 in the series but are brimming with confidence after their win at Trent Bridge (Getty Images)

Former England captain Ray Illingworth feels the confidence of winning the third Test against England has given Indian the edge in the series, and despite trailing 1-2 in the series, Virat Kohli’s side can turn still the tables on England, which, although, will require quite some doing.

In an interview with the Times of India, Illingworth, who was England’s captain when India won their historic first Test in the country in 1971, called India the better of the two sides. He pointed out that while the prospect of winning the remaining two Tests seems tough, India cannot be written off based on current form.

After enduring defeats in the first two Tests at Edgbaston and Lord’s, India bounced back in the third Test at Trent Bridge beating England by 203 runs.

“India is definitely looking the better side at the moment. After winning the third Test, their morale should be high, but given the nature of the game, it might be difficult to win three in a row. India have the spirit and I won’t write them off altogether,” Illingworth said.

“Birmingham was a great Test match but in Lord’s India was at the receiving end of the weather. They were always up against it and it made a difference. In Nottingham, they gave the impression that they are coming back to their true potential. The batsmen adjusted well and then of course the bowlers did the job. It was a great win for them.”

Illingworth was particularly impressed with the improvement India have shown in their fast bowling department. Since the tour of England four years ago, where the team struggled to take 20 wickets in a match, the addition of young fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, along with Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma bringing their experience to the fore, India are presently one of the better fast bowling sides in the world. Since the tour of South Africa, India have picked up 20 wickets barring only one occasion.

“It’s great to see their pacers bowling at 145 kmph,” Illingworth said. “They had Dennis Lillee coaching them for a while, isn’t it (at the MRF Pace Foundation)? Having the best coaching helps and they know how to fight and compete. This pace attack can put a lot of teams under pressure. Add to that the fitness and fielding standards, which have gone up so much in the last few years.”

No discussion about Indian cricket is complete without the mention of their captain. Kohli has done everything right this year and has personally shown a spike in form. In three Tests, Kohli has racked up 440 runs, including two centuries and a half-century. About him, Illingworth didn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, but he did mention the importance of the support he gets from his team and how that is a factor behind his success as a batsman and captain.

“He is obviously a great batsman, right up there with the best that I have seen from India,” Illingworth said. “The best thing about his batting is the way he adapts himself to different formats and is successful. And for a captain to succeed, there are two things that are essential – you have to be intuitive and you need to perform.

“I think Kohli is doing both the things well. He has a bunch of players who believe in him and they are ready to fight for him. In addition to that, there’s so much backup from technology and you know how to deal with situations with a support-staff ready to help you out. It definitely makes the job of the captain easier.”

The fourth Test between the two teams will begin on August 30 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.