Friday, July 15, 2011

India vs England – Series Preview

With the Australian aura disappearing quicker than bottled water during the Y2K, there have been two teams that have thrust their hands up like eager school children to claim the number one throne. These two teams are due to clash, providing what promises to be a showpiece cricketing tour that will rekindle the dwindling interest we are seeing these days. The series, is England versus India, and while I believe both are nowhere near the quality of the Australian empire, it promises to be a mouth watering clash nonetheless.
Not this sort of watering we hope. © Getty Images
But lets make one thing absolutely clear, the second half of that tour will be nothing but dribble. England are a woeful limited overs outfit, evidenced by a narrow victory over a Murali-less Sri Lanka, and an awful World Cup campaign that left foot prints planted smartly into pant seats. Despite the grubby Indian outfit barely managing a series victory in the West Indies, a full strength Indian outfit should be far too much here.
Let us focus then on the test matches, where the real juice lies.
The Best English Team In Decades?
The English have seemingly forever been a horror story of cricket. They always had the players, and appeared to have turned the corner in the 2005 ashes, only to be sucked again into the familiar abyss of failure with the 5-0 ashes drubbing that followed that. But then the clouds began to clear, probably a lot to do with the Australian decline, and England started have finally getting consistent results. Gone is the Flintoff-or-nothing approach, the blaming on injuries and coaches, the dodgy selections, the idiotic notion that Harmison and Panesar were match winners.
Pictured: England's 2003 Test Team. © Getty Images
Suddenly here is a team without an apparent weakness, a bold and clinical leader and capable depth waiting in the wings. All the ledgers are in balance, they have staunch openers, an attacking and consistent middle order, a varied seam attack almost equal to the 2005 Ashes quartet, a real keeper batsman, and the best spinner in the world. Emulating Australia is a definite possibility with this team.
Are The Bollywood Cricketers Up To It?
India may be the highest ranked test side in the world, but a lot of that credit belongs to the Laxman one-man crusades saving them from what would have been dead set defeats. Has that get-out-of-jail card run out of steam? Laxman aside however, a full strength top order reads Sehwag (if not injured), Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Yuvraj, Dhoni. That is some seriousbatting, even despite that fact that Dhoni is usually fodder in seaming conditions. But don’t forget also that most of these men haven’t seen cricket since the IPL, and haven’t seen real cricket since the World Cup.
Not quite the match practice we had in mind.© AFP
The bowling unit has the wile of Zaheer Khan, easily their bowling trump card, and the rediscovered mojo of Ishant Sharma. India will rely heavily on these two, but despite that Munaf can also be useful in seaming conditions if he gets it right, and despite joining the 400 club, India will benefit from playing Mishra instead of Bhajji. Harbhajan is ample proof that the modern game will skew numbers, he is nowhere near the historical 400 club in quality.
The Differences
Virender Sehwag is the only player immune to bowling conditions. If the wickets tumble which is very likely, he will be a key figure in turning an egg faced 150 into a modest 250.
Chris Tremlett the Terminator had Tendulkar missing everything the last time India toured, and thanks to some long overdue consistent selections, he is firmly in place to wreak some serious havoc. He has all the tools, pace, bounce, presence and most of all, control. He is the real Harmison.
Sarah Conner would have no chance. © Getty Images
The Prediction
The most hilarious thing is watching both these sides pretend to be Australia. There is a plethora of swagger to be had from both sides, both believing that they have earned the crown to be labelled number one in the world. Untrue, as the pillar known as Australian cricket tumbled with old age, it wasn’t defeated. Albeit a notch down, these are two very even teams.
An important factor is that England are at home, and India should expect seaming conditions which could undo them. Add to that a lack of match practice for most of the top order and their chief architect Zaheer Khan. England have come off a thorough mauling of Sri Lanka, while India, fielding a B side, looked scrappy and bored against a poor West Indies outfit. Given these crucial factors, England has the edge.
Contributed By : Varun Prasad
Original Post : The Cricket Musings

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