The Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team will look to bury the ghosts of its past when they embark on a long and arduous tour of England spanning three months starting July. After a disastrous 2014 tour, India aim for a reversal of fortunes this time around and former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar feels the team will be able to win the five-Test, three-ODI and three-T20I series in England.
Talking on the sidelines of an event where Vengsarkar was announced as 'Chief Mentor' of the School Games Federation of India's National School Cricket League, he said, "There is a good balance in the team at the moment. Since our fast bowlers are very good at the international level, I expect India will be able to beat England in England."
Vengsarkar, who scored three back-to-back hundreds at the Lord's in three different tours(1979, 1982 and 1986), believes India's victory in England will depend on its seamers. Praising the calibre of the present crop of fast bowlers, he added that unlike before, the presence of options in the pace department is a good step forward for Indian cricket.
A former chief selector of the Indian cricket team, Vengsarkar lauded the itinerary of the forthcoming England tour, especially the scheduling warm-up games that will help Indian cricketers in getting acclimatised to the conditions. He added that the lack of warm-up games affected the previous England tour and the South Africa tour earlier this year.
Talking about Kohli's county stint with Surrey, Vengsarkar said, "I think it is a good decision. He will get time to acclimatise to the conditions, especially since the last tour wasn't exactly a very good tour for him."
In 2014, Kohli scored just 134 runs in the Test series and will look to redeem himself in the present tour. With Kohli taking extra efforts to deliver this time in England, Vengsarkar was confident that 2018 tour of England would be a better one for the Indian captain.
The 1983 World Cup winning cricketer said, "Kohli is the best batsman in the world at the moment and in the last four years he has established himself as No 1. This will be the tour for Kohli and I'm sure that he'll do well."
Speaking on the importance of being well prepared for the English season, Vengsarkar said that it made no sense to have players like Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara play against Afghanistan in India just ahead of the England tour.
The 116-Test veteran said, "If I was the selector, even Cheteshwar Pujara would have been asked to stay back in England instead of playing the one-off Test against Afghanistan.
"Pujara is already playing county cricket in England. At the moment, he is inconsistent and staying back in England will give him more chances to score runs and get into the groove."
Though Vengsarkar acknowledged the historical importance of the Test for Afghanistan, who make their long-format debut on 14 June against an Ajinkya Rahane-led Indian side, he said the Afghanistan Test was wrongly scheduled.
Wicketkeeping options for Indian team
While wicketkeeping mainstay MS Dhoni has been in ominous form throughout the ongoing Indian Premier League, the performances of wicketkeeper-batsmen like Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson have been good for Indian cricket.
On Thursday, Delhi Daredevils' Pant became the first Indian to score a century in this edition of IPL when he produced a scintillating unbeaten knock of 128 off 63 balls against the potent bowling line-up of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Vengsarkar was effusive in his praise of the young left-hander who features in the India 'A' side but failed to make the cut to the Indian T20 side in the England tour.
"I saw him(Pant) yesterday. There were some innovative shots. I have never seen those shots before and I think he played extremely well. He is a very good player."
Though he refused to comment on the selection choices for the England and Ireland tour, he did mention about the increasing wicketkeeping options for the Indian team.
"DK(Karthik) is another good player, he is fantastic. I'm a huge fan of DK."