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India’s English test

They may be the top-ranked team in the longest format of the game, but India are unlikely to be at their best in English conditions

India’s English test

India’s first Test which began at Edgbaston last Wednesday is England’s 1000th match. England are the first to reach this milestone. Their debut Test was against Australia in March 1877. Out of their 999 Test matches, England have won 357, lost 297, while 345 ended in draw.

Team India would look to clinch the series in order to improve their disappointing overseas’ record and maintain their domination in the longer format of the game.

The English players would be hoping for a revenge of the embarrassing series defeat at the hands of India when they toured in 2015-16.

In the past five years, India have won just one of their six Test series outside Asia, against a struggling West Indies. At the Edgbaston, India’s record is disappointing. They have lost five of the six matches at this venue since 1967.

During their recent tour, Pakistan drew the two-match Test series with England. Pakistan won the first Test at Lord’s by nine wickets. England levelled the series by winning the second Test by an innings and 55 runs at Headingley.

India lost last two Test series in England, while Pakistan remained unbeaten in their last two series.

At the start of this series, India were on top of the ICC Test team ranking, while England were ranked fifth.

But England have been the better ones in bilateral Test cricket with 43 wins and 25 losses out of 117 Tests.

Before the ongoing Test series, India had played 57 matches on English soil, won only six, and lost 30.

From 1932 to 2014, India played 17 series in England, won only three, and lost 13.

Pakistan’s record in England is much better. The Green-shirts have played 53 matches, won 12 and lost 23. From 1954 to 2018, Pakistan played 15 Test series, won three and lost seven.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli has an opportunity to secure the top position in the ICC Test ranking. Before the series started, Kohli was ranked number two with 903 points behind former Australian captain Smith (929 points). Smith is serving a one-year ban which he received for being involved in the ball-tampering episode in South Africa.

England captain Joe Root is on the third place with 855 points.

Kohli does not have an impressive record in England. During the last tour, in 2014, Kohli managed only 134 runs in five Tests.

Despite having the world’s strongest batting line, India have been facing difficulty in the top order.

In the last seven Tests, only once have India retained the opening pair. They have tested Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul as well as Parthiv Patel.

But Indian coach Ravi Shastri does not see any problem in the top order. “Our batting order will always be flexible. The third opener can play anywhere in the top four. We are a very, very flexible outfit,” he said before the first Test.

England have also been facing problems with their top order. Since the retirement of former captain Andrew Strauss in 2012, England have tried 12 opening combinations with Alastair Cook.

Cook after 156 Test has a decent average of over 45, but his partners have averaged just 18.5. His partners’ poor performance has affected Cook’s form in recent years. Except a 243-run knock against West Indies at Edgbaston, he has scored only 488 runs in 17 innings, averaging 28.71.

Fielding will also play an important role in the series, particularly for India as during the last tour in 2014, India’s slip fielding standard was very poor. They put down six catches in three Tests in slips.

England’s pace attack consists of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Strokes, Chris Woakes, and Steven Finn. They all have the ability to control any batting line on their home conditions.

NOTE: All figures are updated before the start of the first Test at Edgbaston

 

Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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