Devoid of experience but propped up by a confident bunch of youngsters, India would be looking to wipe off the past scars and reverse their poor overseas record when they take on England in a five-Test series starting here on Wednesday.
It is a great opportunity for a young visiting side as they play five back-to-back Tests in this hectic 42-day series. The next four Tests will be played at London (Lord’s), Southampton, Manchester and London again (The Oval).
Under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India’s last overseas Test win had come against the West Indies at Kingston in June 2011.
That, however, isn’t the only fact hurting Indian cricket. Their Test form against England has really seen a downward curve in the last two encounters.
However, things have changed a lot for the hosts since then. Their current Test squad bears a dissimilar look to the ones that dismantled India.
Swann sorely missed
Cricketers who really shone in those encounters are either suffering from poor form or fatigue – Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad, James Anderson – while some – Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott – have vanished from the scene altogether.
Swann’s absence is hurting England because they now have to play an additional seam bowler while off-setting the spin duties to Moeen Ali, a move that hasn’t invoked much confidence.
It means additional burden on their primary medium pacers, Anderson and Broad. But if the recent trend of placid wickets – like the ones at both Lord’s and Headingley in the recent first home series-loss to Sri Lanka – continues, the hosts will find that taking 20 wickets will not be an easy proposition.
Added pressure on Bell
Bowlers need the cushion of runs to take wickets in Test cricket and Cook’s form is the great worry herein.
With Pietersen and Trott missing, it puts great pressure on Ian Bell in this upcoming series.
England are undergoing a massive transition at this moment and five Tests is ample opportunity for any side looking for a revenge.
If there is an R-word this Indian team is looking for, however, then it is redemption. The 18-man squad bears a completely different look to the one that toured in 2011 or played at home in 2012-13.
Only Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma played here three summers ago, while the others who stepped into the team during the latter series were taking a first step in their respective international careers.
It provides an opportunity to break away from the past and build for the future, signalling an end to the long and painful transition period.
The young batting line-up, bolstered by Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, stood up in alien conditions and made a firm impression.
Is Binny the answer?
The inability to take 20 wickets has hurt them badly and it is this question that needs answering and in turn will ascertain the playing XI for this first Test in Nottingham.
For long, Dhoni has searched for a medium-pacer all-rounder to deploy overseas and Stuart Binny looks like the answer to his prayers.
R Ashwin has been pushed to the bench by Ravindra Jadeja who looks set to be retained as the lone spinner with the Trent Bridge wicket bearing a brownish tinge.
Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma has done little of note in South Africa and New Zealand, while Ajinkya Rahane has done himself a world of good.
Despite his troubles in the warm-up matches, Ishant Sharma will probably be selected on account of his past experience in these conditions, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami giving him company.
But a regular four-bowler attack might not cut it any more. If India do go in with five bowlers, it will be an early indication of their intent in this high-profile Test series.