Teams in rebuilding phase will make England-India series interesting - Duncan Fletcher
Indian coach Duncan Fletcher believes that the bilateral series between England and India will be ‘interesting’, as both the teams are in a ‘rebuilding phase’. Referring to the loss of England batsman Kevin Pietersen as a huge blow, the 65-year-old believes that this Indian team, after promising showings in South Africa and New Zealand, is in a better position to produce results.
Ahead of their departure to England, in a press conference at Mumbai, Fletcher said: "I think they [England] have lost some crucial players. The loss of Kevin] Pietersen has been a huge blow to them. And looking at them, they are in a rebuilding phase as well, so that's going to make the series quite interesting.”
Stressing on the need to get Alastair Cook and Ian Bell out as early as possible, to test the inexperienced batting unit, the former Zimbabwean international, who has also coached England, between 1999 and 2007, said: “I do believe though that they have got some quality batters who have got a lot of experience at Test level. [Alastair] Cook and [Ian] Bell have scored some big runs up the order. The focus will be to get them out as cheaply as we can. The bowling side is fairly well-balanced.”
While England will be without the likes of Andrew Strauss and Pietersen, India have undergone a complete transition with Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, who were all part of the previous tour, calling it a day. Others such as Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar have been ignored, either due to loss of form or fitness concerns.
He added: “They have got [James] Anderson and [Stuart] Broad who have been bowling well and picking up wickets. We will focus on going there and producing as good cricket as we can. We have done that in India and we will look forward to adapt to the conditions as quickly as possible and will look to put them under pressure."
Admitting that the whitewashes in England and Australia in 2011, where India lost all the 8 Test matches they played, were not ‘not easy to take’, Fletcher said that the team has improved, and it was evident from the performance in the last two overseas tours, to South Africa and New Zealand.
Although India again failed to win a single match, they drew a couple of matches, one each, losing the 2 two-match series 1-0. The Indian players showed some resilience, with the likes of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara being the most impressive of them all.
Fletcher, who succeeded Gary Kirsten as the Indian head coach in 2011 after the 50-over World Cup triumph, said: "Obviously it was disappointing. The 4-0 losses to England and Australia were not easy to take. It is difficult to tour England with a young side, but sometimes it results in an advantage.”
"You go out there and play some good cricket - as we did in South Africa and New Zealand - and you learn from there and I hope we can do that. I think it's important to win a match early on in the series. It will give us the confidence that we can win the series. And you never know what the end result will be after that."