Its India v England's Belief
655 // 21 Jul 2011, 00:49 IST
The only time, I was confident about India winning an away series was in 1986 when a strong Indian line up took on an Australia in transition. That side on form and skill was almost as strong as this Dhoni led Indian side; perhaps a bit stronger given that Virendra Sehwag will be watching the Lords Test from the sidelines.
Gavaskar and Srikanth to open; a middle order of Mohinder Amarnath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri; two decent spinners in Shivlal Yadav and L Sivaramakrishnan and the great Kapil Dev.
That series ended in bitter disappointment for me when all Test matches were drawn; Adelaide because of a flat pitch; Melbourne due to rain and India’s strange reluctance to get on with things and Sydney when India, in spite of the rain, almost bowled out Australia twice in day and half, but ran out of time. 26 years on, India has still not won a series in Australia.
India have come a long way from that series but then even as recently as Oval 2007 and Dominica 2011 they have shown that they are still averse to giving it their all in an away series. This may come to bite them because in this series, I have a feeling that the side that wins will be the one that goes for wins whenever they find an opening.
This series, will probably produce the highest quality of cricket in a long time, the crowds will be there and hopefully both sides will show up for all the games.
The last time, India lost a series in England was in 1996 and the last time England won a series in India was in 1985. To top that, India have the number one billing here and yet, it is England that have the belief that they can beat India and be the legitimate World Number one.
I have to say one thing. Early on when India became the number one side and when England won the Ashes, there was a lot of noise among the English that India is not a legitimate number one. But now that there is a distinct possibility of England beating India and claiming the top spot, there is unanimous agreement that India is the legitimate number one side. Strange are the ways of legitimizing rankings.
India will miss Sehwag. There is no disguising that. He gets them into positions that India has no capacity of even envisioning. Without him, the threat of Anderson and Swann is real. India have invested far too much in the IPL and in a way this will be contest between a side untouched by the IPL but are the World Champions in the shortest format and a side that is in bed with the IPL but World Champions in the longest format. Strange isn’t it?
I admit, I believe in England’s belief. I believe their batting is as strong as India’s if not stronger and I believe Swann is better than Harbhajan. In sum, I believe England will prevail at Lords and in the series. And I admit I also envision a horror scenario that Dravid, Laxman and Sachin will go out the way India’s famed spin quartet were forced out, by the relentless attack from Javed Miandad and Zaheer Khan. 3 of the 4 from the famous spin quartet had played 1 series too many and I hope with Sachin, Rahul and Laxman, they never play that one series too many and that if they do, this is not the one