The long English tour starts with India playing a rare 5-test series in English conditions. While there has been a near complete overhaul in the team that played in 2011 and the team playing now, the genuine concerns remain all the same.
However, without going much into the technical aspects of the game, here are some 10 predictions for the 5-test series:
• Shikhar Dhawan will lose his place to Gautham Gambhir in England vs India 2014
While many wouldn’t have fancied Murali Vijay playing, it will be more surprising if Shikhar Dhawan manages to keep the place in this big series between England vs India. He plays poorly against short deliveries, and England will do anything to exploit his weakness. Expect Gambhir to make a comeback in 3rd or 4th Test.
• Shami will be India’s best bowler in England vs India 2014
The English tracks have gone docile in recent times, with the series against Lanka indicating it. While seamers have enjoyed playing here, it will be Shami who will be successful amongst the Indian lot. With his pace and consistent line and length, he will trouble the batsmen, especially with the old cricket ball.
• Kohli will outshine other Indian batsmen England vs India 2014
The natural successor to the No. 4 position has looked fairly comfortable in whites in recent times, and expect him to make more impact than any other Indian batsmen in this series. He knows his cricket inside-out and his will be his biggest asset in this series.
• Cook will have a poor England vs India 2014
Cook has been under fire lately, and this might be his last opportunity for him to showcase his ability. Against an opposition, he has scored lots of runs, he will struggle and under-perform.
• Moeen Ali will be milked by Indian batsmen
When your main bowler is a part-time spinner of a calibre of Raina or Sehwag, you will be in trouble. Moeen Ali, like Imran Tahir of South Africa, will be targeted by Indian batsmen.
• England will miss KP
It is worth admitting that England needs KP. Though the ECB has blamed all its worries on KP, some worse-performing players have managed to keep a spot. The inexperienced batting line-up, though, will face an inexperienced bowling line-up, and lack of a genuine middle-order experienced batsman (other than Bell) could hurt England.
• Lack of killer instinct will hurt India’s chances
The new look Indian test team’s major problem is the lack of a killer instinct. With semi-flat pitches in England this time, India will pay dearly if they go complacent after getting into a promising position. Expect this trend to continue in this series, though marginally lesser than we have seen in the previous away tours.
• England will rebuild a reasonable Test side
After the hammering received down under, the English team has reached a new low. A series defeat against India will be devastating for the team, and they are not the players who give up easily. Cook, who is under the line of fire, will make some inspired team selections, which will be the face of English team in coming years.
• A couple of draws is a possible scenario
Though the recent test pitches have been lively and results have come more frequently than before, we can expect a couple of draws in this series. While the MCC vs ROW exhibition match showed how one-paced the Lord’s ground has become this season, similar signs were seen in the series against Sri Lanka. Going by the batting line-up of both the teams, having one or two draws will not be surprising.
• Final Call
This Indian team has every chance of defeating England. But going into the series, England definitely has the advantage, going by the previous results in the past 3-4 years against India.
This cricket series will be either be tied (1-1 or 2-2 ) or 2-1 to England.
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by Kaushik Narayanan
(Cricket writer, The Cricket Lounge)