England's tour of India: Test Preview
India must beat England by a 2-match margin to book their place in the World Test Championship final. If India lose 1 Test, they will need to win the remaining 3. In short, India has to win either 4-0, 3-1, 3-0, or 2-0. If India loses 0-3 of 0-4, they will not make the final regardless of other results. The spin of R Ashwin and Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav against in-form Joe Root will be Key to team India’s success. The Indian batting lineup will face a strong test against the experience of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. The lack of experience of the English spinners, Dom Bess and Jack Leach can become an issue for the English. The pitches in Chennai and Ahmedabad will play a big role in team selection. It will be interesting to see if the teams go with two specialist spinners or they pick Moeen Ali and Axar Patel as allrounders After a long wait, Cricket is back in India and it couldn’t get better as the team comes up against the former colonizer as is a tour comprising of 4 test matches, 5 t20’s and 3 ODI matches. The first test will kick off on the 5th of February in Chennai at the Chepauk stadium. The second game willBe played in the same venue before the teams fly to Ahmedabad for the other two games the first of which will debut the new 110,000 seater Motera stadium. Team News: India In’s India will see the return of captain and talisman Virat Kohli who missed the last three games in Australia due to the birth of his first child. Ishant Sharma, India’s most experienced pacer, who missed the series Downunder after suffering muscle injury during the IPL will be available for selection. He gained match fitness and got some game time in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Similarly, Jasprit Bumhra who missed the last test at the GABBA with an abdomen strain is back to full fitness. R Ashwin too will make his way back into the team after missing the GABBA test. Another key addition to the squad will be that of Hardik Pandya although he isn’t likely to bowl due to his back injury issues. Bowling all-rounder Axer Patel also finds a spot in the squad. Out’s The two biggest misses for team India will be Mohd Shami, who was injured in the later stages of the Boxing Day Test, and Ravi Jadeja who injured himself in the Sydney Test. Both are set to stay out of contention for a place in the side through the series. Hanuma Vihari too will miss most of the series after suffering a hamstring injury in Australia. Young opener Prithvi Shaw fell out of favor after the poor run of form and has been dropped from the side along with Pace bowler T Natarajan. England In’s After being given a test for the Sri Lanka Tour, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer both make a comeback in the squad for the tour of India. Batsman Rory Burns also makes his way back into the side after being given leave during the Sri Lanka series due to the birth of his child. Young batsman Ollie Pope too will return to the squad after recovering from a shoulder injury. Early speculation suggests that wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow is set to miss the first two tests and rejoin the squad in Ahmedabad for the last two tests. Allrounders Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes both make a return to the squad after missing out in the Sri Lanka series. Out’s Young English all-rounder Sam Curran has been left out of the squad for the test series and along with pace bowler Mark Wood Full Squads: India: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya (VC), KL Rahul, Hardik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur England: Joe Root (C), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes. There has been a fundamental change in the pitches presented in India over the past decade or so. Gone are the days where pitches were very batting-friendly and first-innings scores use to exceed 500+ leading to games without results. The first two games bring in Chennai are key as India hasn’t lost a Test in Chennai since 1999. The Indian Spin attack at home is a pain to complete against. It is going to be a monumental performance for the inexperienced English spinning attack to match the numbers of R Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav. With the exception of Joe Root, most of the English top order seems rather inexperienced. I would predict a 2-0 sweep by India in Chennai. Going to Ahmedabad, I am not too sure of how the new pitch at the Motera Stadium will perform, and with no data available it will be difficult to predict outcomes. Just based on recent form and pure ability, I’m putting myself out there and going for a 3-0 series win for India.