When Sreesanth was cleaned up by Greame Swann during the Oval test, it ended a miserable test series for the numero uno test side. India wes annihilated 4-0 and they lost their no.1 test ranking as well as a lot of pride of being the world champions. The same year, India toured Australia and history repeated itself very quickly. The scoreline was the same; 4-0 in Australia’s favour. The only positive that came out of the tour was the coming of age of Virat Kohli, who has now become the cornerstone of India’s batting in tests, ODIs and T20s alike.
Three years later, team India is in England again, this time to play a five test series. Only Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ishant Sharma and Gautam Gambhir are the three surviving members of the horrors of 2011. The remaining 15 will be playing test cricket in England for the first time.
India plays five tests against England after almost five decades. Their recent overseas tours have resulted in 10 defeats in 12 tests. Though the tours of South Africa and New Zealand have resulted in a marked improvement from England and Australia-2011, a win overseas still remains elusive.
This may well be India’s best chance to create an impact in England. England are in a stage of rebuilt after their 5-0 disaster in the Ashes against Australia. They are without their star player Kevin Pietersen, Alistair Cook is not in the best of form, and Greame Swann has quit the game for good. India on the other hand have players like Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane who will be eager to perform well in a place like England, which is detrimental to a player’s talent and capability.
A lot of talk has been done by our so called ‘experts’ regarding the Indian bowlers’ ability to pick 20 English wickets. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize that these will be perfect conditions for bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami and Pankaj Singh to pick 20 wickets as they are natural swing bowlers. All they have to perfect will be their control over the ‘duke’ ball which swings much more as compared to a ‘Kookaburra’ or an ‘SG’ ball.
The last time Shikhar Dhawan toured England, he was the winner of the Golden bat during the ICC Champions Trophy which India won. He will be keen to replicate such a performance to cement his place at the top of the order and shut the door permanently on Virender Sehwag. Virat Kohli is in the form of his life and good performances in England will only further his march towards greatness. Cheteshwar Pujara had a disappointing tour of New Zealand, but he will be looking to make amends this time around.
The inclusion of Stuart Binny in the test side has raised plenty of eyebrows. He did try proving his worth on the tour to Bangladesh where he picked up the best bowling figures by an Indian bowler in ODI history (6 for 4). Whether he gets a chance in the playing XI in place of Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja is what remains to be seen, but he did show that he can swing the ball and ask batsmen questions when conditions are favourable.
India plays their first test against England on July 9. There is a lot of time for the players to acclimatize to the conditions there and the two practice games will be helpful as well. So with a good batting side and a decent bowling attack, all we will hope for is that history does not repeat itself this time around!
.Hormaz Fatakia is a media student and sports buff. He tweets at @IHarbuBhai