India started their tour of England on a high note with winning the T20I series by 2-1. England came back hard in the ODI series and sealed it by a similar margin. The real deal will begin in the whites. There are some challenges waiting for both the teams. However, India will fancy their chances, given the fact that England have a win percentage of only 20 in their last 10 Tests and Indian bowlers picked up 20 wickets in each of their three Tests on the tour of South Africa earlier this year. India had combination dilemmas ahead of their first Test against South Africa this year and they are in a similar situation ahead of their first Test against England.
Who will be India’s two openers? Will India play two spinners? Will Kuldeep Yadav find a place in the XI? The Indian management has to give more correct answers than they have in any of their examinations back in school. If they fail to do so, then there will be plenty of conversations regarding it.
However, it will be important for India to start well and they have nothing to lose as even if they get whitewashed 5-0, for they will stay at the top in the ICC Test rankings regardless. England know that Virat Kohli will be eager to prove himself in English conditions more than anyone else, which will make the Test series even more interesting. The only disadvantage that India have at the moment is that they will play their first three Tests without their ace pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
England have Alastair Cook and Joe Root to play out conditions, and Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler to take the attack back to India. Adil Rashid will be keen to substantiate himself with the red ball. If India want to win, then their batsmen’s performance against England’s legendary duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, will become critical. For the moment, let’s look at what the history says.
India’s win/loss ratio of 0.200 in England in Tests is their second worst in any country. England have won 13 Test series' against India in England while India have defeated England in only three Test series' in England. However, England are not overwhelming favourites to win the series.
India have won only one Test series in England in the last 31 years, but with the kind of bench strength that India have, they can put it to an end this time around. And Kohli would like to go past Sourav Ganguly’s tally of 21 Test wins by winning one more Test.
However, India need to be careful as they are a unique list presented below, and it can motivate them to go for it no matter what.
Anderson likes playing against India and so does Broad, but only at home. As this series will be played in England, both will be licking their lips to get out on the field to perform against India because of the vast difference in their performances against the Indians at home and away in the whites.
Ishant Sharma who played in India’s last two tours of England, has to play the role of leading the attack in the absence of Bhuvneshwar. He will become a key element in deciding the series for his country. It will be important for him to run through the opposition, not just take a wicket here and there.
Let’s look at some key stats and nuggets before the series begins.