Even though Alastair Cook’s side managed to test India quite farther than previously anticipated in the drawn first Test at Rajkot, former England batsman Allan Lamb has picked the hosts to win the 5-match series by a comprehensive margin.
The 62-year old, who is currently in the hospitality business, will be bringing a sizeable number of tourists to witness the fourth Test at Mumbai. In an interview with TOI, he backed India to clinch the series 3-1.
Lamb predicted, “The last time England toured here (in 2012), the duo of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar did wonderfully well. In the current lot, the likes of Moeen (Ali), (Adil) Rashid, Zafar Ansari and Gareth Batty will have to bowl in good areas in order to trouble the Indian batsmen. They would have to be very consistent in order to make it count.”
He reasoned, “Look, on paper - India have a better spin attack. In Indian conditions, they are favorites. Both teams seem to be giving it their all. But, if I were to go purely by the conditions that would be on offer, the series should read 3-1 in India's favor.”
During the 2012 series, England defied expectations to defeat an Indian side in transition by a 2-1 margin. However, this time around, skipper Cook will have to do without the services of match-winners like Kevin Pietersen, Panesar as well as the retired Swann. Having sunk to a 1-1 draw in the recently completed series in Bangladesh, they were greeted with a docile pitch at Rajkot and duly emerged out of the match with a creditable draw.
Surprised by the lack of spin in the series opener, Lamb quipped, “Considering the wickets that England played on in Bangladesh where there was a lot of turn, I thought the wicket in Rajkot would spin as well. It was however a good Test wicket. England will take confidence from the way they started (in the series). For me, (Joe) Root, Cook and Moeen played with a lot of purpose and showed how it's to be done on Indian wickets. India did drop a few catches and that can always peg you back in a game.”
While the home team have drafted in KL Rahul to strengthen their batting lineup, England could very well go in with an unchanged eleven which would delay James Anderson’s comeback. Even though the Vizag surface is expected to turn viciously, the veteran seamer might still prove to be an asset with his ability to generate reverse-swing.
Lamb believed, “Jimmy (Anderson) is an experienced campaigner who has delivered for the side for years now. When you have a bowler with over 450 Test wickets to his name coming into the side, it's definitely going to lift the side. Jimmy's presence will augment the English pace attack.”
The second Test between India and England begins at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Vizag on Thursday.