India vs England 2021 Test series: Preview
Test cricket is back again as the 2nd cycle of the World Test Championships starts with the India v England 5 test series. After ending as the runners up in the inaugural World test Championships in June. By losing to New Zealand, it is now a fresh beginning for India with probably the most toughest test series of the new test Championships cycle right at the start for the tourists.
Both the teams have multiple injury issues and therefore will be somewhat less than full strength. With 5 back to back test matches in the next 42 days Both teams will have to look at a fair amount of load management, especially for their bowlers. India vs England 2021 Test series: Preview.
They is already ravaged by injury issued even before the start of the series. Shubman Gill, who was a great success in the Australian series, has returned home due to a shin injury. The tour match India played had two further injury victims in Washington Sundar ( fractured finger) and standby by bowler Avesh Khan ( hand injury). Both of them have since returned to India. Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is recovering from a hamstring injury. And now Mayank Agarwal becomes the latest victim because of a concussion suffered due to a knock in the head off a Siraj at the nets.
Prithvi Shaw and Surya Kumar Yadav who are due to reach England to replenish the team have been delayed in Sri Lanka due to covid related protocols.
Currently, India’s biggest problem is their batting. Not only most of their batters are short of runs but their ability to play the swinging ball was brutally exposed by the New Zealand bowlers in the WTC final. Added to that is the paucity of openers due to injuries to Gill & Mayank. Abhimanyu Easwaran who is new to international cricket is inexperienced and KL Rahul’s tyrst. With opening has not met with encouraging results in test cricket in the past as a result of which he is reportedly looked as a middle-order option. However, Mayank’s latest injury might force Rahul to open in the 1st test as Easwaran has no international experience.
Another opening option can be Hanuma Vihari, who opened in a test in 2018-19 series in Australia in makeshift capacity.
This will be a big challenge for Rohit Sharma. Although he has succeeded as a test opener in last two seasons. His overseas test record still continues to be ordinary. It remains to be seen how he handles the swinging conditions in England as an opener in Tests .
The middle-order looks reasonably settled with Pujara, Kohli and Rahane ( if fit) Pant will probably bat at 6. India will have to decide whether they want to go an extra batter ( Vihari) or Jadeja at 7. The lack of extra batter did affect India’s batting in the WTC final.
Time for Pujara & Rahane to get back amongst the runs after an ordinary last 6 months.
If India goes with 4 specialist bowlers then the choices might be Bumrah, Shami, Siraj and Ashwin as the lone spinner. Siraj after his breakout series in Australia has played very little since then. With Ishant having shown signs of fatigue in WTC final, the more fitter Siraj might play in the XI. However, lots will depend on the conditions and pitch.
Probable XI :
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma , KL Rahul , Cheteswar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari / Jadeja , Pant, Ravi Ashwin , Shami , Siraj/Ishant and Bumrah
England also has injury issues of their own with Jofra Archer still recovering from an elbow injury. Hence not in the squad along with the other casualty Chris Woakes.
However, the biggest blow for England is the absence of talismanic all-rounder. Ben Stokes who has taken an indefinite break from international cricket citing mental fatigue for staying in long bio bubbles as well as his finger injury which has not healed. Stokes led England in the recent 3 match ODI series against Pakistan in the absence of the 1st choice England side and he was said to have play while carrying his hand injury.
Stokes does not have a great batting record against India ( average 26). However, his presence and his ability to singlehandedly change the course of the match is priceless. And his absence is bound to create a hole in the England batting lineup.
England has issues in their opening combination. Though Dom Sibley has made big scores in test cricket, his technique to incoming deliveries is getting expose as he is a big lbw candidate. England may look to get Haseeb Hamid to make a comeback in test cricket. Hameed was absent from international cricket after his reasonably successful test debut in India in 2016. Few seasons of poor form stalled his test career. However, he has hit great form since last season. And has scored a well compiled 100 in the last tour match against India’s full strength bowling attack. Therefore Hameed has a big chance to make his test comeback with his well-organised technique and might open with a prolific Rory Burns .
The middle-order may comprise of Zak Crawley , Joe Root, Ollie Pope & Jos Buttler the keeper . England will want Pope to translate his talent to bigger scores.
Ollie Robinson, who made an outstanding debut vs New Zealand. Before he was suspend due to pending investigations on his racist tweets 7 years ago, is free to play again and should be back in fold. He can move the ball around at healthy pace and is a proper looking batsman capable of getting the odd 50. Sam Curran, who had an outstanding series vs India in 2018. Will give Robinson a strong competition for this one spot.
The other 3 fast bowling spots will go to pacy Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Leach might be the lone spinner.
Thus the England XI may look like :
Rory Burns , Haseeb Hameed / Dom Sibley , Zak Crawley , Joe Root , Ollie Pope , Jos Buttler , Ollie Robinson , Mark Wood , Jack Leach , Stuart Broad , Jimmy Anderson
Other details of the Test / series
1st test played at : Trent Bridge from 4 August 2021 . Other four Tests at Lords, Leeds, Oval & Manchester.
Pitch : Tinge of green . will help fast bowlers at the start.
Weather forecast : Chances of rains in most days of the test.
Live coverage : Sony Sports Network. ( Starting time 3:30 PM IST)
key players in the series :
India : Virat Kohli , Jasprit Bumrah , Mohammad Siraj , Rohit Sharma
England : Joe Root , Anderson , Broad , Mark Wood , Rory Burns
INDIA squad: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Suryakumar Yadav (yet to join), Prithvi Shaw (yet to join)
Standby players: Prasidh Krishna, Arzan Nagwaswalla
England squad: Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Sam Curran, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton