Live ,1st Test, England versus India, Lords
A breath taking match up on paper between the decade long Test heavy weights in India and the up and comer in England trying to stake a claim at Test crickets summit. Aside from that, much of the games focus has been about Sachin Tendulkar‘s pursuit for his 100th International century. A truly remarkably achievement and lets hope it happens at the home of cricket. So here is my first look.
In the Sri Lankan Test, the Lords pitch to be honest was a disgrace in terms of being a ‘road’. Hopefully in this Test that has the attention of so many fans globally the pitch is befitting of the interest. Obviously it will be batting friendly like most Lords pitches, but hopefully not to the extent as we sadly saw earlier in the Summer.
The main point of contention in the English line up is the choice between either Tim Bresnan or Stuart Broad. If sense prevails, Bresnan would get the position for his performances for England in Test cricket has been very note worthy. Whereas Broad has been about as effective as a buffet bowler serving up treats for batsmen globally. So this would be my Team:
Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan, Prior, Bresnan, Anderson, Swann, Tremlett
The Keys For England:
1. Can Graeme Swann Be Effective Against The Masters Of Spin?
There is no doubt that Swann is a very decent and big hearted performer for England with his off spin. That has reaped great rewards and transformed England’s attack to be a very multi dimensional one with duel threats.
Though against the Indian’s, the best spinners have tried, but failed against their mastery.
The absence of Virender Sehwag helps, for he would have made it his role to devastate Swann into oblivion. Though this being said the rest of the Indian’s will try to take him to task too.
How this unfolds is crucial….
For if the Indians render Swann as ineffectual. It takes away one of England’s recent great strengths. Thus putting more pressure on the seamers and with it more workload.
So against a batting line up viewed as being one of the best in the games history it would be unlikely they could dismiss the Indian’s without Swann being a factor
2. The Success of the Left Handed English Openers against Zaheer Khan.
The English duo of Alistair Cook and Andrew Strauss are a tale of differing prospects of late. In regards to Cook dominating the game in a run machine manner and then Strauss struggling mightily especially against left handed bowlers
Putting this in context, ill start by classing both as very fine players, but where Cook’s figures have been flattered by mauling amateurish bowlers. Strauss has had a period of being out of form and with it a weakness against left arm bowlers accentuated.
Here in this first Test, a crucial and decisive clash in this whole series will commence. There performance against a very fine bowler in Zaheer Khan and one with a reputation of being a nightmare to left handed batsmen. In conditions touted to suit him.
Who prevails will go a long way to deciding the series. Or in truth if it ends even with both being neutralised. It would be a huge blow to England
3. A Complete Performance On All Levels.
To beat India firstly you need skill, which England have and then you need all to perform in whatever task they are under taking.
You saw this in the Ashes with all the batsmen, bowlers and fields men doing their role and contributing crucially when needed.
To the point where the pressure was relentless and Australia duly melted in it’s fury.
India won’t melt, but if you show the same relentlessness, you might land enough blows on them to win the series.
Conversely if England shows any weakness in their line up, India will exploit it and if they make mistakes they will be victimised.
Disturbingly is the rumour floating around that India will replace Abhishek Mukund in his openers role with Yuvraj Singh. That would be a HUGE mistake. The other query in the Team is who will get the 4th position in the bowling line up. Whether it be Sreesanth, Munaf Patel or the favourite to be included in Praveen Kumar. So this is the likely Team
Yuvraj, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Raina, Dhoni, Habhajan, Zaheer, Ishant, Praveen
The Keys For India:
1. How India Deals With Virender Sehwag’s Absence
In a line up of some of the best batsmen in the games history. Many consider Sehwag as it’s most crucial component. This is not only because of the exceptional batsman he is coupled with the very fine opening partnership he forms with Gautam Gambir, but also the way he plays devastates oppositions. This has a huge domino effect by taking the pressure off the rest of the batsmen and with it they are given a great opportunity to excel.
The absence of Sehwag not only changes the Indian line up dramatically, but has thrown them into semi turmoil.
In terms of finding a replacement and the Team not being too adversely effected by the choice. The two candidates are Yuvraj Singh and Abhinav Mukund. Both not a patch on Sehwag and in truth lacking in Test class.
So how whichever one chosen goes is huge. For if they are victimised by the English, the effect on India will be profound. For it will place greater pressure on Rahul Dravid, who has question marks against his name. Then the rest of the batting line up with the pressure heaped on them.
In my mind Sehwag’s absence could decide the series
2. Has Ishant Sharma Finally Arrived?
This big Indian fast bowler first grabbed all out attentions by how he made Ricky Ponting look silly when the Aussie was at the top of his game.
Sadly since he has frustrated more often than not, but in the West Indies he was stellar with how he lead the attack and the sincere skill he showed.
Against a far better batting line up in England, if he can continue that spearhead demeanour it will be massive for India.
For it will provide India with a lethal one two punch in tandem with Zaheer Khan that has the capacity to slice through any batting line up
3. The Eye Of The Indian Tiger
This is a reference to the notoriously slow starts that India have had to series openers. That was focussed on with a rather insipid display in a warm up game against Somerset.
Here I just have the feeling that with England talking up their prospects of replacing India at the games summit. There just might be a glint in the Indian eyes that shows their fire and determination to put England in it’s place.
Thus if this is the case and India fires on all cylinders. It will take an irresistible performance by England to top them. One that many doubt England has the capacity to show
The Captaincy of Both Teams
Its endemic in the game lately of defensive minded Captaincy. Which is ok if you are playing a lesser Team, where you will prevail by just waiting their inadequacies to lead them into defeat.
Here in a contest that on paper is touted as being evenly matched. The Captain who leads the best might be the difference in the series.
This seen in how pro active they are in setting fields, declarations and all round tactics.
Both MS Dhoni and Andrew Strauss have huge queries against their names in these regards.
So if one can be more charismatic than their past reflects. It might be a huge factor in deciding not only this Test, but the series
A Perfect Stage For Tendulkar’s 100th International Century
The home of cricket in Lords with a player beloved and respected by all in Sachin Tendulkar on the verge of an iconic milestone- his 100th International century.
Lets hope for him, the great Nation of India and fans World wide, he scores it here!
The absence of Sehwag is huge, but just have this feeling that India will rise and show their best.
Though despite this, I think the pitch might be the decisive factor and we might see a draw. On the back of both Teams having excellent batting line ups and the inability of either Team to get 20 wickets to win