Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli will aim to forget the WTC final loss and after break will be hoping to get into the rhythm as his side takes on a under pressure England side in the first Test of a five-match series at Nottingham, Trent Bridge .
India have been a formidable side at home where they have demolished one opposition after another on spinner-friendly pitches and their lion-hearted efforts in Australia have added to the fairytale . But this team’s performance in England is reason to worry , India have lost 11 out of 14 Tests across the last three tours with Mahendra Singh Dhoni being captain in two of them.
Kohli was a part of the 2014 team when it lost 1-3 and the then vice-captain had a torrid time with the bat. He came back determined in 2018, scored truckloads of runs but a poor team choice at the Lord’s and one bad batting session in Southampton meant that under him, India lost 1-4.
In his take for the series, batting legend, Sunil Sunil Gavaskar has backed the under-pressure Cheteshwar Pujara for his ability to hold the fort but said the Indian team management can explore ‘someone else’ if it feels his method is not working anymore. On the result of the series, Gavaskar predicted an India win by a 4-0 or 3-1 margin, depending on the weather, adding that the visitors would emerge victorious anyway as England is depleted without the likes of Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer.
“My prediction is, if again this time I am making it contingent (on) to the weather… if the hot conditions are there, hot conditions are there for 22 out of possible 25 days, then I think India will win 4-0.
“In case you have a situation where the weather is going to be a factor, then I think India will win 3-1, but I think India will still go on to win, because England is now a very depleted side, and their batting, as we saw in the series against New Zealand, is being brittle,” he noted.
Both the skippers Joe Root and Virat Kohli have a lot to play for. Kohli would want to erase the loss in the WTC final against New Zealand while Root , his captaincy under pressure following Test series loss to India earlier this year and more recently the two Test match series loss to New Zealand .
Just like India did at home earlier this year, the seasoned James Anderson says, England must play to their advantage in the five-match Test series against the fancied visitors, by preparing “good pitches” with pace and bounce. The return series begins with the opening Test here from Wednesday. “I don’t think India can have any complaints if we do leave a bit of grass on because what we came up against (them) on our tour of India last time, we certainly played into India’s hands. “They used their home advantage to their benefit and I think a lot of teams around the world do it,” Anderson said during a con-call with select Indian journalists on Monday. One of the game’s finest seamers with 617 Test wickets to his name, Anderson added, “So, if there is grass left on it, India have got a strong seam attack as well.
“I would be hoping for some good pitches, we want pace and carry in our pitches, certainly from seam attack’s selfish point of view, we want pace and bounce, because we know it’s going to swing, so nicks just carry. “That picture of the pitch (here) was taken three days before the first Test. A lot can change in between. I’m sure they are going to trim some grass and roll it as well.”
Squads : India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav.
England: Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Mark Wood.