Tossing Up – India vs England preview

Posted on July 21, 2011


In 2007, India toured England after a humiliating first round exit in the World Cup and the English were whitewashed 5-0 in the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia. But this year, India has won the World Cup and England retained the Ashes beating Australia 3-1 after 24 years in Australia.

In these four years Australian domination has fizzled out, India has become finally become a superpower, not in terms of money but the power of being the best team in the world. Not lagging behind, England re-worked their development path after Andy Flower took over, closely on the heels of India to become the best test team.  The stage is set for an even competition.

The highly anticipated first test starting today at Lords proves that destiny can pull a handy trick once in a while. Being the 2000th test, it could also add another digit in Sachin Tendulkar’s batting summary. The Little Master may look above into the English summer skies, raising his bat and removing his helmet for an unmatched hundred times in the international stage.

But if past performances have their way, we might not witness the much-awaited century at the cradle of cricket. Tendulkar has played four tests and seven innings at the venue scoring 149 runs at 21.28. Not able to notch up a half-century, his highest score here is a measly 37.

The Indian team without Virender Sehwag, for the first two tests, could face an uphill task with Tamil Nadu’s Abinav Mukund given a chance or Rahul Dravid opening to accommodate both Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina in the XI, solving M.S.Dhoni’s dilemma to pick either one.

Along with Zaheer Khan and S.Sreesanth who have made a comeback from injuries, Harbhjan Singh, Tendulkar, Dravid and V.V.S.Laxman apart from M.S.Dhoni are the survivors from the 2007 series. It would be a stiff challenge for Gautam Gambhir to get the better of the pace attack and Graeme Swann. James Anderson’s lethal swing combined it Swann’s (recently crowned No.1 in ODIs) sharp off-breaks could put the Indian line-up on the back foot. Also, Chris Tremlett who made a phenomenal comeback in the Ashes last year has made clear his plans to use bounce as his modus operandi.

However the Indian team has drawn a lot from the recently concluded West Indies tour. Suresh Raina, not gifted to play the red cherry like he plays the white ball, showed signs of an improved game against the short ball in light of the speculation regarding his future in the playing XI after Yuvraj was declared fit.

The Uttar Pradesh southpaw made full use of his second chance, his judgement of the short ball stands claim to his preparation.

The English are no longer gentlemen. The skipper would rather have his team’s performance speak for him. The team, which was last beaten in the 2008-09 Wisden Trophy, shows no signs of giving up until they snatch the No.1 ranking from the visitors.

Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott have been toying around with bowling attacks. Ian Bell has secured the middle order spot with his ability to adapt to situations. Eoin Morgan and Matthew Prior scored whilst their place was under scrutiny. Andrew Strauss seems to have regained confidence after his two half centuries in the practice game for Somerset. The last thing the Indians would need is Kevin Pietersen getting into flow.

The series is a peak in test match competition. The faster version of Beethoven’s 9th symphony would be apt to describe the anxious feelings of fans just minutes ahead of the first ball.

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