England v India PreviewCricket Web Team |
The upcoming India vs England series in February promises to be an absolute humdinger with many of the greatest cricketers on earth facing off against each other. Both sides will enter the series in good form and with their rivalry stretching almost 90 years it has the ingredients to be one of the best international Test cricket series of 2021.
India’s recent heroics at the SCG and Gabba after being thrashed and bowled out for 36 in their Adelaide loss against Australia has raised the hype surrounding the series.
The four Test match series will be hosted by India without any spectators and the first two Tests will be played in Chennai before the second two will take place in Ahmedabad. The Tests will be followed by 5 T20is and 3 ODIs.
If one thing is certain, England is likely to face an even stronger Indian team that the Aussies did. Not only will India have home advantage, but they also missed key players in their historical Australian triumph.
Former Australian captain and cricket legend Ricky Ponting recently admitted that he was shocked to have seen Tim Paine’s Australian side lose against what was virtually an “India A” side.
“I’m quite shocked that Australia weren’t quite good enough to win this series. The cold hard facts of it are pretty much that was the India A team that played this Test match and (India) still won,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
The series will be the first time that the nations play in Tests since the 2018 Pataudi Trophy in England which England won 4-1, though England’s last tour to India ended in a 4-0 defeat in the 2016/17 season. England have had the upper hand in Tests between the two nations in the past decade as they have won five out of six series by a margin of 13-3.
If there was a perfect time that India could finally get one over the English, it is now. Getting a series victory over the mighty English on the back of humbling Australia would be a dream come true for Ravi Shastri’s side. The odds certainly reflect this state of play (although there have certainly been bigger test upsets) with Joe Root’s side currently 4/1 with Betway as of 22nd January to win the series.
The fact that there will be no spectators is something that could just work to the advantage of the English. Indian crowds are known for their passionate support of the home side and can act as the team’s 12th man, giving them that extra bit of momentum when they need it.
Whilst the slow Indian pitch conditions can be difficult for teams outside the sub-continent, England would have had a good warm-up and acclimatization to sub-continent pitches in their series against Sri Lanka this month.
India named their squad for the first two tests and in it included the name of captain Virat Kohli who missed two out of his nation’s recent series in Australia due to paternity leave and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah who missed the final Test against Australia in Brisbane due to injury.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya returns to the India team after working overtime to return to fitness.
The injury prone but experienced Ishant Sharma who missed India’s triumph over Australia owing to an injury sustained during the IPL is set to bolster the Indian pace attack. Should the 32-year-old Sharma play in three of the four tests, he will become only the second Indian pace bowlers in history (after Kapil Dev) to have played 100 or more Tests.
Youngster Prithvi Shaw is set to be dropped from the Indian team in order to work on his batting. The 21-year-old was notably in poor form in the India Premier League as he reached a top score of just 10 in his last seven innings for the Dehli Capitals.
He was unable to recover his form despite getting a chance at the top of the order in the Adelaide Test against Australia as he finished with scores of 0 and 4.
Meanwhile, England will welcome back ace all-rounder Ben Stokes and fast bowler Jofra Archer for the India series after the two were rested for the Sri Lanka games. Batsman Rory Burns will also return to the team after missing the Sri Lanka series due to the birth of his child. Moeen Ali who missed the Sri Lanka series has also made the side.
Notable absentees from the England squad are Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood.
Evergreen pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad will bolster the English pace attack. The 38-year-old Anderson who made his international debut back in December 2002 now enters his 19th year of international cricket.