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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

England-India test series preview

  • 2000th match in history of test cricket
  • 100th test match between India and England
  • 1st test in a new series between the No.1 and No.3 in ICC Rankings
  • Sachin Tendulkar on 99 in the number of centuries (tests + ODIs)
  • Sachin with a sub-40 highest score at Lords
It does not get any bigger than this as a build-up to the test series that starts this Thursday. The return of Sachin, Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth to the test squad will add strength to the Indian team. The English team is looking at the pinnacle of the ICC rankings by toppling the Indian team. 

The Indian team did not get good practice on English soil in the single warm-up match last week. The last time they toured, they played the ODI tri-series and two warm-up matches (one of them had Strauss in the line-up) before the first test. Obviously, the result of the series was 1-0 in favor of the Indians. This time, it is just one match against Somerset to adapt to the conditions. The English pitches typically suit the batsmen on a normal sunny day but change their stripes rapidly after a passing shower. This is where the Indian team has to be careful about. The English bowlers could not dislodge the Sri Lankan batsmen mostly during the three test series except for a bizarre session when the Lankans collapsed.

Players to look for will be Alistair Cook and Ian Bell from the English batting line-up. Andy Strauss and Kevin Pietersen will be under pressure thanks to their recent failures. Similarly, Rahul Dravid and Suresh Raina will be on the spotlight after their successes in the Caribbean islands. 

On the bowling front, Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma can support Zaheer Khan in driving the advantage towards India. Harbhajan's lack of form will be worrying but after his 400-wicket landmark, he will be itching to go flat out. How much Greame Swann can trouble the batsmen will be key to the English bowling attack when the ball does not do much. The tall bowlers will be looking for the pitch to help their height and swing but will the pitches help?

Shane Warne thinks England will win 1-0 but I feel that there is a high chance of a drawn series. 

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