India’s tour of England is underway and about to reach its most thrilling part. The T20Is and ODIs are done and dusted and we are going to witness an epic test series in a few days time. Unlike previous tours, Cricket pundits across the globe are giving India good chance to conquer England this time. The way India fought well in SA, gives them a good chance to conquer this frontier. Here are the 5 factors which will decide which way the ship will sail.
1. Role of spinners
Whenever you play England, the role of spinners becomes very crucial. Much more when you’re playing in subcontinental conditions and much less when you’re playing in England but this time with UK having different conditions than normal, Team India can be optimistic. The temperature in England is ranging between 25°-30° which means wickets will be dried up due to the heat giving an opportunity to Indian spinners to come into play. Kuldeep Yadav was impeccable in the limited overs leg and he could be the X-factor in the test series if given a chance. One can’t ignore Ashwin as well as England will have 3-5 left handers in their squad.
2. Making full use of the new ball
It’s imperative to say that the success in English conditions depends heavily upon how bowlers of a team use the new ball. Most of the times, they’ll get overcast conditions and thus it’s important to make the most out of the new ball. But, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who used to be the perfect exponent of the new ball, out of first 3 tests due to Injury, the responsibility has increased upon the shoulders of Umesh who can also swing the ball both ways ( predominantly an outswing bowler). Bowlers will have to bowl closer lines making sure opponent batsmen don’t get a lot of balls to leave.
3. Openers need to set the platform
As described in the last point, success of a team in English conditions depends upon how well you use the new ball and how well you tackle it as well. The pitches these days in England tend to flat out as the game progresses and thus you would want your openers to stay there as long as possible, blunting the new ball so that batsmen to follow can make the full use of the conditions. It didn’t happen on the last tour. India used to have scores like 8-4 in the first 10 overs only which led to all those losses. KL Rahul, Murli Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan will have to play a vital role although it won’t be easy. Vijay was the best batsman for India on the last tour with over 400 runs. He has perfect game to neutralise the new ball while Shikhar will need to be cautious.
4. Virat Kohli – Score to settle
Even though Cricket is a team game and one player can’t define the outcome most of the times but with a player like Virat Kohli in the centre, anything is possible. He was there, in 2014, seeing his own and his team’s downfall. He has gone there in a hope to settle the score. He is a much improved player and a world class batsman 4 years later. On last tour, he just averaged 13.40 and even if he doesn’t manage to score a lot, nobody can change the fact that he’s one of the best in the world at the moment but his runs will be important for team’s success. He is the best Indian batsman and thus, he holds the key in batting. Other middle order batsmen can play around him and pile on the runs. Hence, Virat Kohli will need to play the way he had played in SA or rather anywhere he has played in these four years.
5. Attack the weak links of opposition
India has’t got a more vulnerable English side than it has got now. The weakness starts from the top itself. Alastair Cook hasn’t been in the best of the nicks since a long time. England has also struggled to find his partner at top. They’ve tried so many players for that position, just like India trying so many for number 4 in ODIs. Keaton Jennings is comparatively new. Then, in middle order, England looks solid except Ben Stokes who’s not in good form these days. India will need to be wary of the players like Root, Bairstow and Jos Buttler. All of them have been doing well for England in test cricket. But, they can attack their weak links in batting. Though, England has got a better fast bowling attack in those conditions which augurs for an exciting series.