Team India have got some time to get acclimatised to English conditions over the last couple of weeks. They even managed to feature in a three-day practice match against a county XI in Durham. Team India, though, would be aware that they have a tough task on hand. That’s because they have won only seven Tests in England, while losing 34.
Why Team India could overcome the England challenge this time
Team India haven’t won a Test series in England since 2007, when Rahul Dravid was in charge of the side. However, Kohli’s side have a great chance to end that losing streak during the current tour. Here are three reasons why Team India could beat England in England this time.
#1 England’s unsettled batting line-up
This is one of the key factors that could go in Team India’s favour. England have an extremely unsettled batting line-up, and barring captain Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow (in English conditions), they are wafer-thin on paper.
If one looks at the two-match New Zealand-England Test series, the Kiwis brutally exposed England’s batting frailties. Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope all had disappointing returns, while Dan Lawrence registered one good knock but also had two ducks to his name.
Root also had a poor series, but that can be considered a one-off. Opener Rory Burns was England’s most effective batsman in the series, with a hundred and an 80-plus score.
The problem for England is that they have stuck with these young guns for the past few Test series. Although the results have not been of the desired level, the hosts were left with no option but to continue with them, as wholesale changes for a big series could prove even more disastrous. Team India will be disappointed if, with their experience, they fail to exploit England’s feeble batting line-up.
#2 Team India’s potent bowling attack
Team India’s top-class bowling attack was extremely disappointing in the WTC final against New Zealand. On a surface where Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner had a feast, Team India’s pace bowlers struggled for consistency.
To put things into perspective, it was a one-off Test. Also, as mentioned in the previous point, England’s batting line-up is not among the most fearsome. Across the five Tests against England, Team India’s pace bowlers should be expected to put up a much better show. That the team’s bowlers have tasted success in England during their previous visits should also bolster their confidence.
Jasprit Bumrah may have gone wicketless in the WTC final against New Zealand, but he has 14 wickets against England in England in three Tests at an average of 25.92. That includes a five-for in the second innings of the 2018 Nottingham Test. Team India’s most experienced pacer Ishant Sharma has 43 wickets from 12 Tests against the Englishmen in England, which includes two five-wicket hauls.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Shami’s record in England is not that great, though. In eight away Tests, he has only 21 scalps. However, he is a much-improved bowler since 2018, and will be expected to deliver the goods.
#3 The Ben Stokes factor
As former Team India opener Aakash Chopra rightly pointed out, Ben Stokes is as good as two players in one. He is a match-winner with both bat and ball, and is an excellent fielder to boot. Stokes’ mere presence in the playing XI gives England hope of pulling off incredible things.
Since Team India last visited England in 2018, Stokes has transformed into a match-winner of a completely different level. He played the most significant part in England’s 2019 World Cup triumph and then starred in that miraculous Ashes win in Headingley.
Stokes did not get an opportunity to showcase his talent in India, given the tough batting surfaces. Of course, he did play one incredible knock in the limited-overs leg, and gave it all he had with the ball in energy-sapping conditions.
Given the inexperienced batters in the camp, England would have been looking up to Stokes to shore up their batting. Unfortunately, bio-bubble life has taken a toll on Stokes’ mental health. In his absence, England’s batting woes could exacerbate in case the top and middle order do not fire.
All said and done, Team India have a great chance to thump England in England. If they fail to come back triumphant, it would be seen as a golden opportunity lost for Kohli and co.