Posted by: Pete Robertson | July 21, 2011

England v India – Test Series Preview

Starting today at Lord’s, in the 2,000th Test Match, England will take on the number one side in the World, India, in what will surely prove to be a thrilling four match Test series. But where will the key battles be, and who should each side be looking out for?

Andrew Strauss vs M. S. Dhoni

The battle of the two Captains could well be the deciding factor in what is certain be a Test series decided on just one or two sessions. Both will want to win the opening coin toss today at Lord’s, and both will hope that the rain doesn’t affect the First Test too badly, with getting an early win under their belt a must. Against either of these teams, to come back to win a series after losing the First Test will be a near-impossible task, and both captains will know it.

Alistair Cook vs Virender Sehwag

Both Vice Captains will open the batting for their respective nations, building the foundations to the wealth of batting talent both teams possess further down the order. Two of the most in-form batsmen in the world, Cook recently won Man of the Series in Australia and led the ODI team to victory against Sri Lanka earlier this month, so perhaps feels he could have the edge against his Indian counterpart. Both men though are key to their team’s chances of success, and a good innings from either of them has the potential to win a Test Match almost single-handedly.

Jonathan Trott vs Sachin Tendulkar

This I feel is the most exciting of the head-to-heads. Ranked fourth and second in the World respectively, both are arguably their side’s best batsmen, and will be a prize scalp for any bowler. While Trott is consistent for England, scoring 203 against Sri Lanka in Cardiff this summer, there is no matching the likes of Tendulkar quite yet. The ‘Little Master’ has scored more runs than any other Test Batsman ever, and even at the age of 38, still looks to be in top form, and nears the unbelievable record of scoring 100 International centuries. He’ll be hoping to achieve this feat in the First Test at Lord’s, and complete one of the few feats that has alluded him in his career, to have his name put on the wall in the Lord’s dressing room.

Graeme Swann vs Harbhajan Singh

The two premier spin bowlers for both England and India will fancy their chances if the pitches stay just that little bit damp, and I’m sure they’ll both pick up a lot of wickets this series. With over 400 Test scalps to his name, writing off a bowler of the quality of Harbhajan could prove costly for England, but Swann’s emergence into the team in the last few years has been nothing short of meteoric. And with home conditions and support, Swann will expect to finish the series as the pick of the spinners, as you may expect from the World rankings, Swann currently ranked second while Harbhajan lies seventh.

James Anderson vs Zaheer Khan

Ranked third and sixth in the World respectively, you would be forgiven for thinking that Anderson will be on top in this battle of the seamers. However, recent poor form (by is own high standards) may give Zaheer a sniff of an opportunity to get on top of England’s senior fast bowler. However, England’s vast strength in-depth of fast bowlers will ensure that where Anderson may be lacking, another will step up to the mark, be it Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn or Tim Bresnan. With four seam bowlers in the top 20 in the World, India’s attack is not of the standard of England’s, but then again, you cannot get to being the World’s number one team without taking a wicket or two…

Billed as the World’s best batting side against the World’s best bowling attack, this series is almost too close to call – even the support of the Barmy Army will be matched by the noise of Indian fans. However, with the conditions in England as they are, the Indian team may take a little time to adapt, as demonstrated by their loss to Somerset recently, and so an early win for England could be the decisive factor to tip the series in the home team’s favour. I’m going to go for a 2-1 England win, but whatever the score, watching two of the very best teams in the World locking horns will be action from start to finish, and has all the potential for a Test series that will reignite a love for Test cricket, and could well be a series looked back on for years to come.

Comments welcome…

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