Mumbai: Indian cricket team gets back to playing Test cricket on Wednesday as they face England for the first Test in Rajkot.
The No. 1 Test team has won its last four Test series on the trot and would be hoping to consolidate its position at the top. However, the challenge this time is more daunting than that of New Zealand, whom India whitewashed 3-0 in the last series.
The hosts have a dismal record against the Alastair Cook-led team in the recent past. Team India has lost all three Test series played against the English team since 2011. So, it is normal to play up the upcoming series as an opportunity for India to take revenge. But as far as captain Kohli is concerned, he will do well by not paying any attention to the ‘payback time’ hoopla.
The sole focus should be on winning the Test series and the idea of revenge must not make them forget the basics. England lost their first ever Test to Bangladesh recently and the team would be determined to bounce back.
Kohli would have also warned his teammates about the dangers of complacency creeping into the mindset of his team. Barring few exceptions, India convincingly beat New Zealand 3-0 in the Test series at home. The challenge for the hosts is to not get complacent and to continue winning.
It is still early days in Kohli’s tenure as a captain, but considering India’s dominance at home and the 13-Test long home season. Kohli would be eyeing to make his mark as India’s Test captain. And as the captain has said earlier, the series and the season will offer a career-defining experience to many players in the current squad.
On the other hand, the challenge for the match venues should be to ensure the series doesn’t end up being a lopsided contest. 13-Test home is a boon for many Test cricket fans, but a one-sided series will bring more harm to popularity of the format than revitalising it.
Decision Review System (DRS)
Along with few cricketers, DRS is also set to make its debut in India. After opposing it strongly for years, BCCI finally agreed to use the review system on a trial basis in the upcoming series.
Team India last used DRS in Tests in 2011 against England as the Andrew Strauss led his team to a thumping 4-0 win. They have not used the technology since then citing lack of accuracy. The challenge for Kohli and Co. will be to adapt to it as quickly as possible as English team has been using it for years.
Kohli vs Root
Fallen off the radar is the clash between Kohli and Joe Root. Both are considered as one of the best batsmen of the modern era, however, Kohli with his performances has outshone Root recently.
Both the batsmen have played 48 Test matches and Root has an upper hand on Kohli as far as the record is concerned. The Englishman boasts a better batting average and has scored more runs than the Indian captain. Outwardly ultra-competitive, Kohli would be looking to emerge as the batting leader.
The last time India went to England to play Tests, India made Moeen Ali look like Muttiah Muralitharan. It was the duo of Graeme Swann or Monty Panesar that led England to series victory against India in 2012. This time England have come with four spinners, Adil Rashid, Gareth Batty, Zafar Ansari and Ali.
None of the spinners are seen in the same breath as Swann or Panesar, but the visitors would rely heavily on their spin attack. Especially, considering the spin friendly Indian pitches.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Murali Vijay, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Karun Nair, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jayant Yadav
England: Alastair Cook (Captain), Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Haseeb Hameed, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.