When England take the field against India on Wednesday, 1 August, it would be their 1000th Test. Although that might not have a direct impact on the result of the game, it might play a role in attracting ticket sales. For fans would love to watch history in the making. That might be the only extra iota of pressure that England would feel ahead of the First Test at Edgbaston, for England would go into this series having defeated India in the ODI series and walking in with the obvious home advantage in the back of their minds.
It is a different story that three England veterans haven’t played a lot of cricket in recent times, no prizes for guessing- Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Now suddenly they have been woken up from their slumber and asked to play 5 Tests in 6 weeks which might not be a very good idea since there is no substitute for match practice, something which they lack big time. There is a fear that somewhere an injury might creep in while the series is in progress and that could make things worse, especially if England don’t start well.
On the other hand, India have had a mixed tour so far- a series win in the T20Is and a disappointing loss in the ODIs. Although they started off the tour on a positive tour, once the English batsmen started figuring out Kuldeep Yadav, it all became easy for the team and in the final couple of ODIs, England had cracked the code and eventually coming out on top, despite trailing behind in the series.
That being said it is the Test Matches which is the ultimate show and with the tour poised at 1-1, it has reinforced the particular idea. However, with the on paper analysis, and given the strength of both the teams in Whites, it is fair to say that India seem to be starting as favorites, if one doesn’t take into consideration the conditions. Given the selection issues and the concerns regarding batting position in the Indian camp, the series is wide open and may very well go down to the wire.
When Virat Kohli said that India start as favorites in the Test Series he might not be telling a blatant lie or a statement to play down the opposition. In fact, his Indian team, seems, as of now, the most likely to repeat Rahul Dravid led Indian Team’s heroics in 2007. Later trips in 2011 and 2014 have shown immense promise in the initial part of the respective tours but India’s vulnerability against the moving ball had been exploited as the series had progressed on the both the occasions which has forced the Indian team on the back foot.
At least one thing is a guaranteed take away from this series- there will not be any half measures taken from the Virat Kohli led Indian team, the captain of which is himself trying to conquer the last unconquered territory and is already, in some sense, among the great cricketers of the world. Although there is no doubt that he is the perhaps the best limited overs batsman around, Test Cricket is the ultimate test, on passing which, Virat will have scored runs, heaps and mountains of those, all around the cricketing globe. If some of Virat’s opponents come out with the same zeal, determination and passion on the field, this is going to be one amazing series which might reignite the popularity in Test Cricket. For if a series involving India cannot do it than possibly no other team can, because India is undoubtedly the most popular team by some distance.
The wicket is likely to help the seamers in the First Test and Virat Kohli versus James Anderson, the ultimate battle to watch out, for as India take the field against England on Wednesday.
Broadcast Starts 15:30 Hours (IST).