India have arrived with arguably their best equipped squad in recent times and we could witness a classic contest
The schedule is as follows
Aug 01, Wed 1st Test Edgbaston
Aug 09, Thu 2nd Test Lord’s
Aug 18, Sat 3rd Test Trent Bridge
Aug 30, Thu 4th Test Southampton
Sep 07, Fri 5th Test Oval
One expects an Indian Test squad to feature classy batsmen and skilful spinners, but fast bowling was never India’s strength. For years, the fast bowling stocks were so low that even Sunil Gavaskar and wicket-keeper Budhi Kunderan were asked, at times, opening the bowling. Why was it that Pakistan produced a long line of some of the best seam bowlers the game has ever seen, and India didn’t?
A concerted programme of youth coaching and academy development has started to come to fruition and Sachin Tendulkar believes that the touring Test squad have “the most complete fast-bowling attack India have had in years”.
They have all basis covered. A genuine swing bowler in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a tall, hit the deck bowler in Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah is skiddy and Umesh Yadav a genuine quick. A well balanced rounded attack that should thrive in whatever conditions the five Test venues will throw up and with more than capable back up bowlers around the squad.
The IPL has played its part too – each year the auction has seen more homegrown Indian fast bowlers go for more and more money and seen more Indian seamers featuring in the list of the fastest deliveries bowled in the tournament. In 2013, only one Indian bowler – Umesh Yadav – featured in the list of the 100 fastest deliveries in the tournament. This year six featured – Mohammed Siraj, Shivan Mavi, Avesh Khan, Yadav, Bumrah and Siddarth Kaul.
Fitness and athleticism and strength and conditioning are now (and India were a bit late to the party) integral to the squad, and captain Kohli is the embodiment of this. Skill, rather than fitness, was India’s way in the past but as we saw when they toured here in 2012 and to a certain extent in 2014. Fielding was not their strong point and their seam bowlers were inconsistent.
Four years later and they are the number one Test team in the World and with good reason. Since 2016, the top spot has moved around between a number of teams but under Kohli, India are now a significant challenge for any opposition whether home or away – although it has to be reminded that much of India’s dominance in the format is in home conditions.
This tour provides them with, perhaps, their greatest challenge. You need sound technique to bat in English conditions – one of the reasons a number of their squad wanted to come and have stints in county cricket at the start of this season.
India have only won Test series in England three times in their history – most recently in 2007 – but this time feels different.
This is the most well balanced, well drilled, fittest squad that has toured here. They have the perfect balance between youth and experience, and with England’s Test team far from settled, we could be in for one of the all-time classic close fought series. Test cricket certainly needs a close series – a series with high drama and tension. It’s a five-match series which always provides more of a chance for an extended narrative.
This Indian summer has genuine potential to be a classic. The series begins on the 1st August and goes through to 11th September
England are odds on to win the series, this feels incorrect given the talent in the teams, the hot weather leading to dry pitches and suiting India’s spinners with whom England have really struggled in the first part of the tour. India should be backed to win the series at 2/1 with Skybet