After sweeping off Sri Lanka 2-0 in the recent Test series has certainly put Joe Root and his men in a good position, as they set their eyes on a series win against India in their own backyard.
England in fact were the last team to beat India as visitors by winning the four-match Test series against the hosts 2-1 in 2012-13, while they lost the five-match series 0-4 in 2016.
However, no matter how high on confidence a team might be, beating India in India is too difficult. A battered and bruised India recently fought back hard, after the opening Test catastrophe in Adelaide, to rewrite history by defeating Australia 2-1 on their home soil, and eventually winning the four-match Test series. That too without the services of their premier batsman and captain Virat Kohli.
Here we look at the top five players from the visiting side who can pose a big threat to the Indian side.
England skipper Joe Root, who will become the 15th England cricketer to play 100 Test matches when he takes the field at Chepuk on February 5, will be looking to make his milestone match memorable after a great start on their sub-continent tour.
Root showed great ability against the spinners and batted for long periods of time in the just-concluded Test series in Sri Lanka, scoring 426 runs at an average of 106.5 in two Tests.His knocks included a double century (228) and a score of 186.
The prized wicket of Root will be the main aim of Indian bowlers in the upcoming series. Root, who led from the front against the Lankans, termed India as ‘the best team of the world in their own conditions’ ahead of the crucial four-match Test series, adding that they are eagerly looking forward to the series against India.Root will know that he will have to be at his best as captain and key batsman in the four Tests which will be played in Chennai and Ahmedabad. Root has played a total of 6 Tests against India in India with scoring 584 runs, which included 1 century and 5 half centuries, at an average of 53.09 with a highest score of 124.
Ben Stokes :
The return of all-rounder Ben Stokes after being rested for the Sri Lanka tour is obviously a great boost for the England team. His overall record in Asia is well. He is the kind of player who comes up with a.crucial knock at an important time of the match with crucial wickets and a few stunning catches or run-outs here and there, turning the match on its head, in his team’s favour.
That’s what makes him a unique player.
It will be imperative for Indian bowlers to not allow Stokes to score quickly. His bowling abilities give the team management an option of having an extra batsman in the playing eleven.
Stokes has scored 345 runs at an average of 38.33 in 5 Tests played against India in India till now. He has scored a century and a fifty. On the bowling front, Stokes 8 wickets on Indian soil.
He is only 11 Tests matches old, but right-arm pacer Jofra Archer has everything it takes to be a huge x-factor player for the English on this tour. He is the fastest of the England pacers and despite the Indian tracks not being the fastest or liveliest, Archer can trouble the Indian batsmen.
However, he has his apprehensions too, as he had played IPL in India before but when it comes to red ball cricket he has no experience as to how to work on these Indian pitches which make pacers work hard for their wickets. So it could be quite a challenge for him in five-day cricket that too against a formidable opposition like India in their own den.
But whatever Archer has displayed so far in international cricket has shown that he is a quality pacer, with raw pace. In the 11 Tests he has played so far he has taken 38 wickets with 3 five-wicket hauls.
The most experienced amongst all the Englishmen in the current squad and England’s all time highest Test wicket taker – will be the man to watch out for in the upcoming series.
Anderson is on a high after picking 6/40 on a tough Galle pitch against Sri Lanka in the first innings of the second Test. The 38-year-old veteran, who also completed his 30th five-wicket haul in the second Test in Galle, was charging in despite knowing that the pitch might have hardly anything for him on offer.
But he displayed great temperament, which is needed at this level, and exhibited his experience to deliver the results which changed the course of the match later on. Anderson is the first fast bowler to take 600 Test wickets.
Anderson has played a total of 10 Tests in India and picked up 26 wickets so far with the best figure of 4/40 in an innings.
Off-spinner Moeen Ali is very eager to make his return to the cricket field after a break due to coronavirus.
Moeen, who took a break from Test cricket after being dropped during the 2019 Ashes series against Australia, spent almost two weeks in isolation after testing positive for the virus on arrival in Sri Lanka.
Moeen last played a Test for England against Australia in August 2019. But since the Indian pitches will offer good assistance to the spinners, he doesn’t want to lose the opportunity of being England’s most experienced spinner in the squad.
Moeen has played just 5 Tests in India, which was during the last tour of India and taken 10 wickets, with best figures of 3/98 in an innings.
England squad for first two Tests: Joe Root(C), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali , James Anderson , Dom Bess, Stuart Broad , Rory Burns , Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley , Ben Foakes (wk), Dan Lawrence , Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes , Olly Stone , Chris Woakes.
England Probable XI – Zak Crawley, Dom Bess, Rory Burns, Joe Root, Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler (WK), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad
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