India’s bid to secure a World Test Championship Final berth

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India vs England Test seires

The England tour of India is slated to begin on February 5 with the first Test at Chennai. In a secured, bio-bubble across three cities – Chennai, Pune, and Ahmedabad, the two teams will lock horns in 4 Tests, 3 ODIs, and 3 T20Is. While the limited-overs series in the latter half of the tour is sure to excite masses, the Test matches early on too, hold significance.

If India is to not lose and win the series, they would in all likelihood qualify for the World Test Championship Final at Lords in June this year. The series would also be important for the fortunes of New Zealand, who are currently second but do not play a single Test prior to the qualification cut-off. The four Tests will be played across two venues- Chennai and Ahmedabad. The refurbished Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Motera, deemed to be the world’s largest cricket stadium will host its first match. However, played behind closed doors, the stadium will miss the thing it has been talked about the most, its crowd and the capacity.

Indian Team and the problem of plenty:

Indian Test team

The Indian team, which was recently announced, has retained a few new faces who debuted down under. The series also marks a return of a few of India’s batting and bowling spearheads and more importantly, welcomes Virat Kohli back from paternity leave. The arrival of a princess in Virat Kohli’s life could well be the beginning of a new phase in his cricketing career as well. While Kohli himself would be keen on ending the century draught, he would also look to ride India to victory. Thereby, also erasing all questions over the shift in captaincy.

Ishant and Virat's return will help India
Ishant and Virat’s return will help India

The most-awaited return of Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma will also excite the Indian fans. However, the challenge that the youngsters, especially Sundar and Thakur pose with selection, could mean a harsh call on one of them, especially on the spinning Indian pitches. Injuries to Hanuma Vihari, Mohammad Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, and Umesh Yadav though could help the Indian selectors overcome the problem of plenty. It is important for the Indians to strike the right balance. Preset to this would be the Indian team choosing on the wicket-keeper and the number 7 for the team. It would also be interesting to see whether India go in with three spinners or with only 4 bowling options.

England’s Test of Spin:

England Cricket Team for the Indian Test

England on the other hand, currently on a Test tour to Sri Lanka, would be keen on negating India’s threat with the spin. The visiting teams from the recent past like Australia and South Africa have proved that once set, the sub-continental wickets can be easy to play on. A lot would therefore depend on the English batsmen, their approach and technique against spin, and the temperament to let go the good deliveries. The relative inexperience in the batting for England could even out the threat caused by their superior pace bowling.

Kevin Pietersen recently tweeted about a letter that Indian legend Rahul Dravid had once sent him, talking about the techniques and the ways to play spin. He further requested the England cricket board tp circulate it across the English openers. With the kind of team Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Ravi Shastri have together built, beating them in India is easy by no means. If anything it probably remains one of the toughest things to do.

Overall, the series promises to be a humdinger, hopefully also fielding multiple five-days traditional Test cricketing matches due course.

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