England and India will reignite their fierce rivalry when they square off in a five match Test series starting on Wednesday night from Nottingham! As always, we have you covered with a full preview and betting tips from Mr.Cricket below.
Nottingham, Wednesday 8pm (AEST)
England Squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Hasseb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Mark Wood.
India Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Ravi Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Ravi Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Prithvi Shaw, Shardul Thakur, Hanuma Vihari, Umesh Yadav, Surakumar Yadav.
It seems like only yesterday that these two teams were lining up to face each other in the four-match series in India back in February. In that series, it was India who claimed a dominant 3-1 series win, but the Poms will be hunting redemption as they host the Indians in a Test series for the first time since 2018.
Since that series in February, both India and England have played Test matches against only the same opponent, New Zealand. The English side hosted the Kiwis in a two-match series in the lead up to the World Test Championship Final, which was played between India and New Zealand. Both nations were beaten by New Zealand, so that gives a pretty good barometer as to how evenly these two teams are matched heading into the massive series.
The first Test will be played form Nottingham, and there is some rain forecast for the final three days of the match. However, it doesn’t look like it will be enough to cancel out a result, especially after what we saw in the Test Championship Final, with New Zealand and India getting a result with just 309 overs bowled in the match.
The touring side will have a near full strength side, with Shubman Gill and Washington Sundar the only notable absences from the squad. As has been the case for a while with the Indian Test line-up, the biggest question mark surrounds the opening combination in the batting line-up. With Gil out for the series, the likes of KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Rohit Sharma and Abhimanyu Easwaran will fight for the two spots at the top of the order.
From there, the Test line-up for India looks to be pretty settled with some horses for courses changes in the middle order. Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Pant, Jadeja, Ashwin, and the three selected fast bowlers will make up the rest of the order.
There is certainly a few more questions over the English order. The absence of Ben Stokes leaves a massive hole in the middle order and with the ball, one that will be tough to fill. Not only that, the disappointing performances of some of the top order batsmen in the two Test series against New Zealand, particularly Zak Crawley, could force his head onto the chopping block.
Despite missing their best player, it’s just so hard to look past England at home. Sure, they went down 1-0 against the Kiwis earlier this season, but New Zealand is arguably the most suited nation in the world to playing in English conditions. The English pace contingent is a different beast at home, and it’s possible we could see a four-pronged pace attack alongside a spinner, as both Sam Curran and Craig Overton are capable of batting at No.7 and No.8.
The Indians have historically struggled playing in English conditions against the swinging Duke ball, having lost the last three series they have played their dating back to 2011 and won just 2 of 14 total Test matches in that span.
The three most important batsmen for India are without doubt Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. This is how fierce the drop-off is in their career batting average when playing on English soil.
Kohli – 52.05 > 35.64 (11 Tests)
Pujara – 46.08 > 27.53 (10 Tests)
Rahane – 41.12 > 29.52 (11 Tests)
Discounting the chance that rain has a bigger part to play in this match, it’s hard to back the Indians in England after seeing those figures of their most important batsmen.
I have almost no doubt that they’ll put it together for at least one match, and it could well be the first at Nottingham, but without any recent form to go off, I have to pick based on historic evidence here, which makes me favour the home side strongly.
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