No other overseas tour in the past few years has generated the kind of interest that the ongoing India vs England series has.
England won the One Day International (ODI) series 2-1 and lost the T20I contest by a 1-2 margin. It’s now the moment that the cricketing world has been waiting for, with the First Test of the India vs England 2018 series starting at Edbagston on Wednesday.
Can Kohli Erase The Bitter Memory Of 2014?
“I am not in a frame of mind to prove myself in any country. I just want to perform for the team. I want to score runs for the team and take Indian cricket forward,” Virat Kohli told a news conference on Tuesday, according to a Hindustan Times report a day before the India vs England Test series begins.
The Indian captain will, however, be acutely aware of his poor performance in the 2014 series that India lost 1-3. He had averaged less than 14 in his 10 innings with scores of 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6 and 20 in the five Tests.
To make matters, English pace spearhead James Anderson had taken his wicket four times in that particular series. Knowing Kohli, he would be keen to make amends.
However, despite the brave talk by the Indian captain, the team that is No 1 in the ICC Test Rankings will find itself under tremendous pressure to come up with a winning performance this time.
Top Order Needs To Walk The Talk
With the ODI and T20I series done and dusted, the build-up to the five-match Test series has seen players from both sides expressing confidence.
Vice-captain and top-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has said that India has the ability to make the going tough for England in the series.
For that to happen, he, and other top-order batsmen like opener Shikhar Dhawan and middle-order mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara, will have to walk the talk. Dhawan and Pujara had a poor run in the three-day practice match with Essex.
KL Rahul and Murali Vijay, on the other hand, impressed with their performance, prompting former Indian captain Saurav Ganguly to say that India should go into the Test match with these two openers.
Pace Bowling Attack Under Pressure
The Indians go into the First Test without the service of fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Jasprit Bumrah, who are out with injury. An off-colour Mohammad Shami has added to the bowling woes.
It will be up to the seasoned Ishant Sharma and the hard-working Umesh Yadav to ensure that the pace attack is effective. The third seamer will most likely be Hardik Pandya, who has also proved himself handy with the bat in many matches, although Shardul Thakur is also in the squad for the first three Tests.
But using pace to rattle the English top-order batsmen in home conditions could be easier said than done. This is where Kohli will be expecting that the spinners can come good in the India vs England series.
India seem to better placed than England, who have only leg-spinner Adil Rashid for the match. The Indian side can choose between young wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, and the likes of the more experienced Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
India’s record in the last tour against England did not seem to weigh down Jadeja. Speaking to the media on the eve of the First Test, he claimed that India was the only team that had the ability to defeat England, in England.
Pointing out that the side had more experienced players compared to the 2014 squad, he maintained that the Indian bowlers now knew how to exploit the pitches and conditions in England.