It’s been a busy year for India already since they started the year hosting a multi-format tour from the England team. Victory in those tests has earned them a place in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, England, in June. They then travel home as favorites for the T20 World Cup, which, as things stand, is scheduled to be hosted in India in October and November.
In amongst all of this is the small matter of an away test series in England in August and September. Such a series is always a challenge, but it will feel even more so this year with their hosts eager for revenge after a less than impressive winter tour. Despite a promising start, England lost all three series, the tests 3-1, the ODIs 2-1, and the T20 series 3-2.
So what are India’s chances in England? With such a solid recent form, could this be the first since Rahul Dravid’s team of 2007 to win a series in England? English fans will undoubtedly be queuing up to use their welcome bonus to welcome the visitors with a bet on England reversing their away defeats on home soil. However, Dravid himself disagrees, telling reporters: “I do think India has a very good chance this time.”
It’s fair to say that England were all at sea against the Indian spin attack in the winter, losing all ten wickets to spin in three consecutive matches. Turning pitches from day one gave the likes of Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin almost total dominance over the England batsmen. The third test in the enormous new Ahmedabad stadium, named after prime minister Narendra Modi, was over in just two days.
With the action moving to the greener, grassier wickets of England, you might expect the advantage to switch to England’s famous pace attack. The likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and Jofra Archer will relish the chance to show their skills in home conditions, but they are not guaranteed to have things all their way. After the World Test Championships, India will remain in England, with over a month to acclimatize and play themselves into English conditions.
India also boasts an impressive pace attack of their own, including Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammed Siraj Mohammed Shami, returning from injury.
Everything in our favor
By the time the two sides meet again at the crease, India could well be on an unstoppable roll. They have already beaten Australia away in four tests over Christmas, they whitewashed England in all three formats when they got home. If they can add the World Test Championship trophy to their haul, then their momentum could be unstoppable.
What’s more, their schedule is comparatively light compared to England, who will play tests against New Zealand and shorter games against Sri Lanka and Pakistan as part of a packed summer that could leave many players worn out. If this means players are rotated ahead of the T20 World Cup, India may not even face England’s strongest side.
Who will win?
With games stretching well into the English Autumn, it is unlikely that there will be a result in all five matches. The final match does not start until as late as 10th September in the northern city of Manchester, so chances are conditions will play a massive part in the outcome of the series. Lose just one result, and a finely balanced series could end up 2-2.
If the weather holds, then England has shown that they are tough to beat on home soil. England has won 58% of home tests this century and only lost 31 of 137 tests. But surely the actual test of a claim to be ‘the best in the world’, as India hopes to be by then, is to be able to beat all teams in all conditions. If they beat England in England, then they can genuinely claim that crown.