These were the scenes when India won that historic test series (1-0) against England. Happy image right ? But next image won’t be such a happy one for the Indians to see.
As I was implying, these were the scenes when England trounced us to win the series (4-0) and went on to become the number 1 test team in the world. It was a white wash. It was a humiliation for the Indian cricket team and the Indian cricket lovers. Having mentioned both the contrasting scenarios of 2007 and 2011, let us come back to the present state of affairs. Indians have a very big 18 men squad going in to the tour. Let us have a look at the squad
- MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Pankaj Singh
Is it a good enough squad to avenge the series defeats to England in 2011 and 2012 ( In India ) ? This squad is definitely a lot different than the previous ones. The greats of Indian cricket have retired, this is a much younger squad and for most of them, it will be their first tour of England. My first point of worry is Ishant Sharma’s selection. He shouldn’t have been selected but it must and should be the last chance to prove his worth. The one good thing that will go ‘for’ him is that he already has an experience of bowling in England. The other controversial selection was that of Stuart Binny ( because his father Roger Binny is a national selector ) but i believe that it might well turn out to be a master stroke. I say this because of the reason that he can swing the ball as good as anyone and can be very useful in the lower middle order too. Overall, the pace attack isn’t that bad but I would have liked for selectors to include Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma instead of Ishant and Pankaj. Needless to say that Bhuveneshwar Kumar holds the key and India might miss a quality left arm seamer. Mind you, RP Singh did well in that successful series of 2007.
It will be a stern test for Ashwin especially because of the fact that he hasn’t been much effective overseas. I would want him to not try too many variations and stick to traditional off spin. Openers are another cause of worry for India. Shikhar Dhawan isn’t in good form and i’m just not convinced with Vijay at all. I would personally want Gambhir along with Dhawan but i guess that the management will give Vijay an opportunity in the first test at Trent Bridge. Meanwhile Gambhir should make use of all the opportunities he gets. May be, he will be fancied in the middle order if either Rohit or Rahane fail to score big runs. Success on the other hand depends on how Pujara and Kohli performs. Its important that they’ll end up in the top 5 scorers when the series ends and the entire team would be betting on that. But the biggest challenge will be faced by none other the Indian captain M.S. Dhoni himself. He would want a turn around after those debacles in England and Australia. He would want to prove himself as a captain in foreign conditions and he would want the English weather to be nice,bright and sunny.
Having said all these, the England cricket team at present are vulnerable and sensitive. They haven’t won a single test match in their last two series that they played and it would have hurt them to lose a test series against Sri Lanka for the first time at their home. Captain cook seems to be in an awful form, bowlers seems have a lost a bit of form, dressing room atmosphere doesn’t look great and they have dumped their best player. England has this problem, they seem to blame their best player if they lose badly in a big tournament. Its actually funny. They did it with their football team too after their group stage exit from the World Cup. They blamed it all on Rooney. Their cricket team are even more outrageous. They in fact dropped Pietersen after their ashes debacle and guess what, he was their highest run scorer in that series. I struggle to understand their system and i’m sure that most of you feel the same way. I don’t always like listening to Ian Chappell but he is right when he says that a team or an organization cannot be successful without having people saying ‘NO’ to you and a management should learn how to manage such people ( especially when they contribute to in such a big way ).
It’s pretty clear that England team’s mindset isn’t in a proper place and the Indian cricket team is in a decent shape. So Indians have to prepare well, be mentally strong, acclimatize to the conditions nice and fine, have correct strategies and should be confident enough to put the opposition on back foot. Another vital thing is to remove that memory of losing to them 3 years back. Past doesn’t matter but what matters the most for us is to win the upcoming series and I’m taking a big decision to call the series to India. Its an acid test for Duncan Fletcher as well. BCCI should immediately sack him if things doesn’t fall in to the right place but I would be hoping that things will go well. It would be a great monsoon gift from the British summer to the die hard Indian cricket fans.
– Nithin Lokesh