India vs England preview: Why this is India’s best chance to beat England at home in recent years

It has been a case of so close yet so far when it comes to India playing Tests against England in England over the past decade. Sure, the stats will tell you that India have won just 2 Tests out of a possible 11 since the start of 2011, but the Pataudi Trophy has been more closely fought than the numbers suggest. 

 

Think India’s memorable win at Lord’s, their first at the Home of Cricket since 1986. With their backs against the wall, it was our very own vice-captain and the ever-dependable Ajinkya Rahane who came to the fore with a gutsy century. Later in the game, Ishant Sharma’s best-ever figures of 7/74 meant India completed a remarkable comeback and etched their name in history. 

 

Even in the last series in 2018, the 4-1 scoreline doesn’t tell the true story. India looked set to start the series with a win with the visitors chasing 194 in the final innings. But Virat Kohli fell at the crucial juncture, and we fell agonisingly short by 31 runs. 

 

The margin of defeat was less than 120 runs in two more Tests during that tour, with India’s performances proof that they can compete with England in their own backyard.   

 

Come 2021, the Men in Blue have a chance to set things right. Under Virat Kohli India have transformed into one of the most fearsome outfits in red-ball cricket, topping the Test rankings for the last five years on the trot.

 

With the series opener tomorrow, there is a widespread belief that 2021 is the year when India beat England in England and register their first Test series win in the country since 2007.

 

 

 

Indians have had time to adjust to the conditions 

 

English conditions are widely considered to be the toughest for Test cricket. Overcast conditions, inclement weather combined with the swinging Dukes ball makes red-ball cricket an arduous proposition.

 

But unlike teams that have toured England in the past, Virat Kohli and Co. have had an unprecedented amount of time to get used to the trying England conditions. Having been on the shores since June 2 means that they would have been in England for over 2 months by the time the first ball is bowled at Nottingham.

 

In that time, they have played a high intensity final against one of the best pace bowling attacks in the world, sparred amongst themselves across multiple intra-squad games and practice sessions, and even competed against a Select County XI at Durham.

 

This is easily the most time an Indian side has spent in England ahead of a five-match Test series, which can only mean a good thing come Match Day. 

 

 

 

An enviable pace battery is raring to go 

 

You need your pace bowlers to do the talking when you come to England. Although Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan have impressed on these shores in the past, all too often they have been the lone wolves going against a staunch England attack.

 

Not this time though. India have a total of six pacers in their squad, with each offering something unique with the ball. Jasprit Bumrah is a constant threat, and the Dukes ball should help him in England. Mohammed Shami is one of the few pacers proficient in the art of reverse swing bowling, while Ishant Sharma brings with him loads of experience and is on par with Kapil Dev as India’s leading wicket-taker against England in England with 43 Test wickets to his name.

 

Add to that Mohammed Siraj’s ability to swing the ball both ways, Umesh Yadav’s guile and Shardul Thakur’s heart, India have a pace battery for all seasons this time out. 

 

 

 

 

An in-form Ashwin is licking his lips


 

The speed guns may grab all the attention, but don’t discount the impact Ravichandran Ashwin may have in this series. Veterans like Dale Steyn and Graeme Swann have backed Ravichandran Ashwin to make a mark against England, and we all know the Master likes to silence his critics with performances on the field. 

 

He has 88 wickets against England, and 8 more wickets will see him eclipse BS Chandrasekhar to become the leading wicket-taker against England in Tests. Critics have pointed out his record in England, but over the last two months, Ravichandran Ashwin has proved he is truly a Master in all conditions.

 

With match figures of 4/45 in the WTC Final in overcast conditions followed by a stunning 7/126 in the sole county game against Somerset last month, Ravichandran Ashwin has shown he is a handful in English conditions as well. In fact, since 2018, his average of 28.23 in SENA countries is the second-best for any spinner, with the top spot going to his partner in crime Ravindra Jadeja.

 

The 34-year-old comes with experience and form under his belt, so discount the veteran spinner at your peril. 

 

A well-rounded Indian side that ticks all the boxes

 

India have never won a Test series of four or more matches in England. Doing so requires not only a top-notch playing 11 but also quality squad players that can step up if needed.

 

Virat Kohli has already spoken about the importance of rotating his side across the tour. With five Tests in six weeks, each member of the squad will have to step up and do his bit for India to script history in England.

 

And they have the squad to do just that. Rishabh Pant has grown leaps and bounds since he was last in England, and his counter-attacking style could be just the thing India need to peg bowlers back in clutch moments. KL Rahul looks well placed to slot in and do the job if given a chance, while Shardul Thakur can come in and provide something with both bat and ball down the order. Hanuma Vihari has gotten up to speed after his injury with a county stint with Warwickshire, while Mohammed Siraj is one of the most exciting fast bowlers in the circuit.

 

 

 

The Men in Blue have one of the most balanced and equipped squads in recent memory and would be looking to prove a point after the WTC Final loss against England. The series marks the start of the new Test Championship cycle, and India find themselves in a commanding position ahead of the enticing series. Bring on the Brits!

India vs England preview: Why this is India’s best chance to beat England at home in recent years

It has been a case of so close yet so far when it comes to India playing Tests against England in England over the past decade. Sure, the stats will tell you that India have won just 2 Tests out of a possible 11 since the start of 2011, but the Pataudi Trophy has been more closely fought than the numbers suggest. 

 

Think India’s memorable win at Lord’s, their first at the Home of Cricket since 1986. With their backs against the wall, it was our very own vice-captain and the ever-dependable Ajinkya Rahane who came to the fore with a gutsy century. Later in the game, Ishant Sharma’s best-ever figures of 7/74 meant India completed a remarkable comeback and etched their name in history. 

 

Even in the last series in 2018, the 4-1 scoreline doesn’t tell the true story. India looked set to start the series with a win with the visitors chasing 194 in the final innings. But Virat Kohli fell at the crucial juncture, and we fell agonisingly short by 31 runs. 

 

The margin of defeat was less than 120 runs in two more Tests during that tour, with India’s performances proof that they can compete with England in their own backyard.   

 

Come 2021, the Men in Blue have a chance to set things right. Under Virat Kohli India have transformed into one of the most fearsome outfits in red-ball cricket, topping the Test rankings for the last five years on the trot.

 

With the series opener tomorrow, there is a widespread belief that 2021 is the year when India beat England in England and register their first Test series win in the country since 2007.

 

 

 

Indians have had time to adjust to the conditions 

 

English conditions are widely considered to be the toughest for Test cricket. Overcast conditions, inclement weather combined with the swinging Dukes ball makes red-ball cricket an arduous proposition.

 

But unlike teams that have toured England in the past, Virat Kohli and Co. have had an unprecedented amount of time to get used to the trying England conditions. Having been on the shores since June 2 means that they would have been in England for over 2 months by the time the first ball is bowled at Nottingham.

 

In that time, they have played a high intensity final against one of the best pace bowling attacks in the world, sparred amongst themselves across multiple intra-squad games and practice sessions, and even competed against a Select County XI at Durham.

 

This is easily the most time an Indian side has spent in England ahead of a five-match Test series, which can only mean a good thing come Match Day. 

 

 

 

An enviable pace battery is raring to go 

 

You need your pace bowlers to do the talking when you come to England. Although Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan have impressed on these shores in the past, all too often they have been the lone wolves going against a staunch England attack.

 

Not this time though. India have a total of six pacers in their squad, with each offering something unique with the ball. Jasprit Bumrah is a constant threat, and the Dukes ball should help him in England. Mohammed Shami is one of the few pacers proficient in the art of reverse swing bowling, while Ishant Sharma brings with him loads of experience and is on par with Kapil Dev as India’s leading wicket-taker against England in England with 43 Test wickets to his name.

 

Add to that Mohammed Siraj’s ability to swing the ball both ways, Umesh Yadav’s guile and Shardul Thakur’s heart, India have a pace battery for all seasons this time out. 

 

 

 

 

An in-form Ashwin is licking his lips


 

The speed guns may grab all the attention, but don’t discount the impact Ravichandran Ashwin may have in this series. Veterans like Dale Steyn and Graeme Swann have backed Ravichandran Ashwin to make a mark against England, and we all know the Master likes to silence his critics with performances on the field. 

 

He has 88 wickets against England, and 8 more wickets will see him eclipse BS Chandrasekhar to become the leading wicket-taker against England in Tests. Critics have pointed out his record in England, but over the last two months, Ravichandran Ashwin has proved he is truly a Master in all conditions.

 

With match figures of 4/45 in the WTC Final in overcast conditions followed by a stunning 7/126 in the sole county game against Somerset last month, Ravichandran Ashwin has shown he is a handful in English conditions as well. In fact, since 2018, his average of 28.23 in SENA countries is the second-best for any spinner, with the top spot going to his partner in crime Ravindra Jadeja.

 

The 34-year-old comes with experience and form under his belt, so discount the veteran spinner at your peril. 

 

A well-rounded Indian side that ticks all the boxes

 

India have never won a Test series of four or more matches in England. Doing so requires not only a top-notch playing 11 but also quality squad players that can step up if needed.

 

Virat Kohli has already spoken about the importance of rotating his side across the tour. With five Tests in six weeks, each member of the squad will have to step up and do his bit for India to script history in England.

 

And they have the squad to do just that. Rishabh Pant has grown leaps and bounds since he was last in England, and his counter-attacking style could be just the thing India need to peg bowlers back in clutch moments. KL Rahul looks well placed to slot in and do the job if given a chance, while Shardul Thakur can come in and provide something with both bat and ball down the order. Hanuma Vihari has gotten up to speed after his injury with a county stint with Warwickshire, while Mohammed Siraj is one of the most exciting fast bowlers in the circuit.

 

 

 

The Men in Blue have one of the most balanced and equipped squads in recent memory and would be looking to prove a point after the WTC Final loss against England. The series marks the start of the new Test Championship cycle, and India find themselves in a commanding position ahead of the enticing series. Bring on the Brits!

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