As we enter July, England await India for what promises to be a mouth-watering clash. It was the
year 1911 when India toured The Home of Cricket under The Maharaja of Patiala for the first time.
However, the first official Test between the two was played in 1932, which was India’s inaugural Test. It took 39 years for India to register their first test win on English Soil. In the final Test at the Oval in 1971, India beat England to take the series 1-0 courtesy of the legendary spin trio of Bedi, Chandrasekar and Venkataragahavan. It certainly was a massive accomplishment. But in recent years India have been found wanting on English soil.
Historically, on the grassy, damp pitches in England where the ball swings and seams a great deal;
India’s celebrated batting line-ups have struggled to put on big runs. And when the batting has clicked, the bowlers have not been able to finish the job. But this time around, things are a little
different. The pitches have been dry, the ball isn’t exactly nipping away in all directions, and teams are checking out their spin-bowling options. For the first time, India’s bowling looks just as menacing as their batting. Bhuvaneshwar and Bumrah have been sensational, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma have looked really promising in recent times and the rise of Chahal and Kuldeep has been fascinating to watch.
The tour is starting off with 3 T20Is followed by 3 ODIs and 5-match Test Series to finish. Like the
Test series, the limited-overs leg looks an exciting prospect; the reason being the current form of the two sides. Indian limited-overs team has looked better each time it has stepped on the field. While England could lay claim of having the best limited-overs squad they have ever produced. Its really a battle between two batting heavyweights. While India’s batting is its strength, as usual, English batting looks fearsome than never before. England have been known to favour the traditional format than the limited overs version of the game. It almost did’nt matter if they did’nt play white ball cricket as well as they play red ball cricket.
But after a terrible outing in the 2015 World cup, England opened the window to see the way the
world was playing the shorter formats. The inclusion of people like Trevor Bayliss and Andrew
Strauss brought in the fresh air and changed The English mentality about white ball cricket. Now
England have some of the best power hitters in the game. Be it Jason Roy or Alex Hales or Captain
Morgan himself. They have Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root to control the innings with Jos Buttler as a finisher. In Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, England have their all-rounders who are absolutely critical to their balance. Chris Woakes and David Willey too can tonk a ball which extends their batting up to No.9 or even No.10. In the recent series against Australia, England put on a batting exhibition. The bowling might just be a worry as there isn’t much experience. But it still is a team to beat in their own den.
India would be confident after 2 strong performances against Ireland. Batting looks fine as usual. The peculiar problem is at the much-debated No.4 slot. Suresh Raina might play there as India don’t really have a sixth bowling option. Raina can chip in with a few overs and his experience can come in handy in the middle order. With Dhoni, Karthik and Pandya to follow after the mighty top 3, India have the batting to challenge England. It really then comes down to the bowling of the 2 sides. England might look a little fragile on the bowling front. But Bumrah being ruled out of the series will be a big blow for India. Bumrah has been simply sensational in his short career so far, especially in the death overs. So India will have to rely on Bhuvi with the new ball and at the death. Umesh Yadav might be preferred over the newcomer Deepak Chahar. But the visitors would be hoping for the spin wins to weave their magic against the hosts. England haven’t played spin particularly well, which was evident in the Australia series. And the kind of form both Chahal and Kuldeep are in will certainly worry England.
We await a great contest between the two of the world’s best batting lineups at present. But it
would be great to see the ball do some talking; pose questions to the batsmen; because Cricket
should always remain a contest between bat and ball. At the moment it looks like a clash between
two batting giants, but the ball might well decide the result of the series. Let’s look forward to some great Cricket ahead.