Time and patience: On England vs India Test series

Just as Indian hockey’s Olympic tryst draws rightful attention in Tokyo, Virat Kohli’s men will don whites and play their Test series in England. The first Test commencing at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge on Wednesday will kick-start a five-match joust stretching all the way to September 14. Due to bio-bubble protocols and the World Test Championship final that India lost to New Zealand at Southampton on June 23, Kohli and company have been in England since June first week. Perhaps, this is the longest an Indian squad has stayed overseas prior to an opening Test and there was adequate time to get acclimatised. After the contest involving New Zealand, the players took a break, savoured the countryside, Euro and Wimbledon, and added zest to their Instagram accounts. They then reverted to the bubble and had a warm-up fixture against a County Select XI. Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant recovered from COVID-19, an injured Shubman Gill returned home, and Mayank Agarwal suffered a concussion and was ruled out of the first Test. Even so, India is seemingly in a better head-space, an important attribute while countering England in its backyard. Ever since its maiden tour of England in 1932, India has won only three series — 1971, 1986 and 2007 — at the Old Blighty. Having ambushed Australia, India wants to replicate that feat in cricket’s birthplace.

With its whimsical skies torn between the sun and feathery rain, and pitches favouring the sultans of pace, England is a hard testing ground. A cautionary fact is that India lost all its three previous tours during 2011, 2014 and 2018. It would be interesting to see who walks out along with Rohit Sharma as his fellow-opener. K.L. Rahul has a chance while Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane would constitute the middle-order. Hanuma Vihari is part of the mix with Pant lending match-altering flair. A pace-attack headlined by Jasprit Bumrah along with R. Ashwin lending his spin, augurs well and seemingly India have the right men. Yet, there are worry-lines. By their exalted standards, Kohli, Pujara and Rahane have had a lean patch, and Bumrah was not on fire against New Zealand. However, the team-management sees this as an aberration. Facing off against India, England has skipper Joe Root and the pace-combine of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to fall back upon. But there is no Jofra Archer and the exit of all-rounder Ben Stokes citing mental issues and the need for rest, is a blow to the host. Exactly 50 years after registering its maiden series victory in England, India is back for another tilt. With just the walking-wounded and its bench-strength, India stunned Australia. Kohli is banking on that memory to turn the tide.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 11:33:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/time-and-patience-on-england-vs-india-test-series/article35709232.ece

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