Natwest Series India vs England: England Team Preview
The stage is set for the Mother of all battles.India kick start their tour of England with the first test being played at the Mecca of cricket-the Lords.It goes without saying that India are the team of the moment and it would indeed take a herculian effort from the Poms to depose India from the numero uno status in the longer format of the game and more so importantly themselves become the cock of the test walk for the first time.If the team form is anything to go by then the series promises to be a mouth watering contest.At the moment,England have everything going right for them-their batting,their fielding and bowling,everything seems to be top notch.So before the first test gets underway,lets see what the English team has in store for us:
- Openers-The winning recipe:Unlike India who seem to be struggling in this department in absence of their swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag,England clearly seem to be enjoying the services of two of its technically sound and experienced batsman,skipper Andrew Strauss and Cook.Both openers are as solid as rock and given the fact that the conditions will favour the pacers,their skills will definitely come into play.As for cook,he has been in the form of his life.His sublime touch played a major part in England’s victory in the Ashes and after two hundreds (and a 90) in the recently concluded test series against Sri Lanka ,he has silenced his critics with some noteworthy performances in the ODIs as well where he led the team from the front-A player transformed indeed.On the other hand ,England would want its skipper,Andrew Strauss to come good in this high profile series.He has been woefully out of touch in the recent past and it has been quite evident that Strauss has had his share of problems with left-arm quicks and Zaheer has been his nemesis more often than not.That said,he looked pretty impressive on day 1 of the practice match at Taunton where he scored a quickfire 78 of 98 balls with 16 crafted shots to the fence and England can surely be heartened with the apparent return to form of their skipper.Whether he carries this momentum to the first test at Lords remains to be seen.
- One drop-The run machine:Here is a player with an amazing resemblence in terms of mentality with his Indian counterpart and legendary batsman,Rahul Dravid.His form in the recent past has been staggering.He has churned out runs at will and has been crucial to England’s Ashes dominance.A technically sound batsman,Trott knows precisely his scoring areas and he won’t deviate from his playing methods come what may.He is expected to come in at no 3 and therefore will surely have a vital role to play if England are to pose any kind of threat to the Indian bowling attack.
- Two drop-A flawed genius?:Kevin Pietersen-A player who could have reached great heights of success if he had channelised his talent in the right manner.Off late he has been pegged back by a series of injuries and perhaps overburden of expectations as well.Ever since he made his debut in international cricket,Kevin Pietersen has been tipped to be the ship-shaper of the English rampage but his loss in form in the recent past has raised a few eye brows over his selection in the team-He has had his problems against left arm spin bowling and expect India to exploit that chink in his armour, especially Yuvraj Singh whom he called a “Pie-Chucker” back in 2008 when England toured India.A note of caution for KP:”Watch out for the pie chuckers!!”
- Three drop-The perennial saviour:Ian Bell, a player who has played some gritty knocks in the face of adversity and has saved England from the jaws of defeat.He is a class act himself and has been involved in many bail out packages for his team in crunch situations much alike his Indian counterpart and legendary batsman VVS Laxman.He might not be as good and technically sound as Laxman but England will surely depend on him to come good in times of crisis.
- Four drop-The princely southpaw:The no 6 has always been a crucial position for the batting side and in bowler friendly conditions like those in England,it becomes all the more important.In case of a top order collapse,you would require the lower middle order to come good and hold the innings together and in case of a good foundation being laid by the preceeding batsman,the job of no 6 is to score freely and up the ante as and when needed.Eoin Morgan has been a great limited overs player and his innovative skills with the willow have come good for England on many occassions.After establishing himself as an ODI specialist,he finally has got a serious eye in the test scheme of things following the dismal run and retirement of Paul Collingwood.He has made best use of the opportunities that have come his way -If he gets it right with some bits of technique and temperament,he can be a serious bet at no 6 and a force to reckon with.
- Five drop-A good gloveman or a better batsman?:This position has always demanded a player who has the ability to score runs and score them at a brisk pace without throwing his wicket away.England’s wicketkeeper Matt Prior comes up with the occasional howlers you simply wouldn’t want to see with glovemen but what makes him an automatic choice for the 11 is his batting abilitiy.Prior has been in stupendous form with the bat ever since he started piling up runs against the kangaroos in the Ashes series.He also scored a well crafted hundred vs Sri Lanka in the recently concluded test series which will certainly boost his confidence ahead of this high profile encounter.
Bowling department:By the end of the WC 2011,serious questions were being raised on whether James Anderson deserves a place in the side or not.The cynosure of all eyes in the Ashes series had all of a sudden found himself amidst a raging storm but after all the chaos,the express pacer has come out swinging away again.His mastery over small movements of the ball either ways will certainly be expected to come good for England when they face the start studded batting line up of India.He will lead the pace battery of the Poms and assisting him will be Chris Tremlett who uses his height to great advantage to get that extra bounce on fairly placid surfaces.Add to this list the names of partnership breaker Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan and one would say that England have a potent attack to challenge the Indian batsmen.Last but not the least England’s spin spearhead Graeme Swann who is supposed to come good against the Indian middle order and provide them the breakthroughs as and when needed.Swann would be desperate to improve his record against India and justify his tag of world’s best bowler.India would surely be wary of this new and rejuvenated Graeme Swann.
So ,all in all England seem to be ready to face the toughest challenge of this summer-Its just not a challenge,it is an opportunity for them to be the table toppers in test cricket.Lets see how far they succeed in their mission.