England vs India: Battle for world supremacy
With little to separate the two batting line-ups, the side that bowls better should win the series.
One of the most anticipated cricket series will start at Lords Stadium on the July 21, when India takes on England in the first Test match. This series can be regarded as the battle for the World Test Champion, as the number one team in Test cricket, India, will play the number three team. If England wins the series, they will take the top position.
Both teams are at the peak of their performance but England seems to have an edge where the future is concerned. The younger players in their line-up have already established themselves as world class players while India mostly consists of old masters.
England’s top and middle order has been churning out runs like a well oiled machine since the last Ashes series, with Alistair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott notching up century after century, as if they were playing Club Cricket. Comparisons can be made between Dravid and Trott. Both occupy key positions in their respective batting line-ups and go about their work quietly and efficiently. Their teams will look to them to lay a solid platform as the series gathers momentum. Then, there is Kevin Pieterson, probably the best English player of this generation to give his side some much needed aggression.
Should I even bother writing about the Indian middle order? Dravid, Tendulkar and VVS Laxman have over 450 Test matches and 35,000 runs between them. They have conquered bowling attacks all over the world and although they are ageing, their ability refuses to wane. It has been a challenge for even bowlers like McGrath, Akram, Walsh, Murli and Warne to keep them in check and the English bowlers will have their hands full once the series starts.
English conditions and pitches offer bounce, zip and swing, early on especially, and hence, it is very important that openers are able to negotiate well with the new ball. The absence of Virender Sehwag, who provides an additional advantage of scoring quickly, might hurt India badly considering Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund (Sehwag’s replacement) have never played in England before.
England, for their part, will be hoping that Andrew Strauss discovers some sort of form. He looks to be in good form, in county and tour games, but has not been able to maintain the performance in Test matches of late.
With little to separate the two batting line-ups, the side that bowls better should win the series. Both teams have quality spinners in their ranks in Swann and Harbhajan, capable of causing trouble for the best batsmen. But, it is the fast bowlers that will matter more. Which leader of the pack, Anderson or Zaheer, makes the greater impact, will decide which way the series goes. The supporting acts in Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, Tremlett and Broad can do a lot of damage in their own right.
All in all, this should be a series that is well worth the wait! And, to add to the occasion, the first Test between the two sides at Lords also marks the 2,000th Test match ever to be played. It is a huge milestone and let’s hope there are many more such milestones for this premiere form of the game.