In the days leading up to the first Test match between India and England, one could almost feel the Indian team’s pain inflicted by England a year ago. India was beaten comprehensively in all three departments during the course of those four one-sided Test matches and every statement from the Indian camp in the last few weeks has reiterated that hurt and the importance of returning the favor. In fact, for the first time, the Indian think-tank has gone to the extent of not just preparing well but also influencing the preparation of the visitors. England played as many as three first-class matches before the first Test match in order to acclimatize with the conditions and the turning ball. While they spent enough time in the middle to get used to the low/slow Indian pitches, they didn’t get enough practice against the turning ball because the teams they played against rarely fielded a frontline spinner.
These tactics have ensured that the English batsmen spend enough time in the middle feeling reasonably confident about their chances in the Test series. But warm-up matches are just that—warm-up matches and I have a feeling that they will count for precious little once the real deal starts. Dhoni has been vociferously demanding dustbowls for home Test matches, and if the curator at Ahmedabad has paid heed to the Indian skipper’s demands, English batsmen’s technique against spin will be tested severely in the first match itself. Amongst all the teams in the world, England has the worst record in the sub-continent, and they will have to play out of their skins to change that in India. The key to their success would be reading the ball from the hand and not off the surface, along with taking a positive approach. Attack is the best form of defense when the pitch is spitting cobras.
On the other hand, Indians should be feeling fairly confident about their chances to put one across England’s batting. Ashwin and Ojha have an impeccable record at home and if Dhoni sacrifices Umesh Yadav for Harbhajan, the spin trio might just prove a tad too tough to handle. The only concern for India is the form (or the lack of it) of their top order. Both Gambhir and Sehwag are in one their lowest phases of International cricket. Every low scoring innings is just piling on the pressure on the Delhi duo. While Pujara made number 3 his own and Kohli further enhanced his reputation against New Zealand, Tendulkar’s lack of form remains a grave area of concern too, for he’s the fulcrum of Indian batting, more so in the absence of Dravid and Laxman.
On paper, the home team looks a much better side than their counterparts, and hence the onus is on the visitors to make this series riveting. If they somehow manage to get on top of the turning ball and if their pace bowlers find reverse swing on dusty Indian pitches, it could be a mouthwatering affair. Else India’s ‘defensive tactic’ to deprive English batsmen practice against quality spinners is bound to be a masterstroke.
This article was first published in Gulf Times, Dubai
This entry was posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 at 5:49 am
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.