India’s tour to West Indies has already kick-started with a win over them each in ODI’s and the T-20 formats. With youngsters giving a chance to prove their mettle in tests as well since the senior players have been given some rest, people are looking forward to the positives coming out of this series as this will prove how strong is India’s bench strength. However, this series hasn’t been the talking point which surprises me quite a lot as India- West Indies rivalry has been phenomenal as years have passed on, though it has lost its touch in the last decade or so.
With India touring England in the month of July this year, the focus has completely shifted on to them. With India playing overseas after a long time, it has to be a tough one to go past. Ganguly said,” India will win in West Indies, but England will be tough”. This looks quite true with the fact that England has been playing phenomenal cricket around and have been going great guns. Retaining Ashes cup at away and defeating Australia at their home ground is no sort of joke. Though their ranking in ODIs is quite higher when compared to their performances but when it comes to tests they’re just looking for a chance to throttle India from the top spot. And when you have the opportunity to defeat India in their own den with flurrying bouncers and swing that takes away the game from the Indian counterparts.
But what makes England a serious competitor to the #1 ranking which India has earned so deservedly. These players are certainly to be credited.
Averaging 48 in his test cricket, he gives England a perfect start what a team actually needs. But what has been exceptional, is the way he has come up and shown what he means to his team. He was the main reason to why England retained the Ashes trophy. A run machine for England, he scored 766 runs in 5 tests he played with an exceptional average of over 120. With 3 centuries, 1 double century and 3 more half-centuries he had a splendid series. And that happened in just about 7 innings in which he played. Even in the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, he has already notched 335 runs in just 3 innings. Being in blazing form, he is the torch-bearer for England at the moment and certainly the man to watch out for.
An exceptional player, playing just 19 tests has already notched 6 international hundreds which includes 2 double hundreds already. A prolific batsman, he has been in tremendous form this year, winning the cricketer of the year award for England. In the Ashes series tour he was next only to Alastair Cook and Michael Hussey for the number of runs he has scored. An exceptional double hundred in the 1st test he played against Sri Lanka in the ongoing test series, was an example of his unbreakable defense. Always on the lookout for runs, he is going to be tough one to breakthrough.
Been considered to become the best off-spinner, he certainly has got the talent to be one. With a career 135 wickets and a splendid economy rate of 2.9, he has always kept on the batsmen and never let him score runs. He always keeps the batsmen in defense and keeps him thinking all the time. The batsman ultimately succumbs to the batsmen and gives away his wicket. Making a debut in 2000 for an ODI, he was called back in 2007 and ultimately cemented his place in the team. Playing his spin is difficult, and with India touring to England in July, it’s going to be a strong but healthy rivalry between the best off-spinners in the world at the moment, Swann and Harbhajan Singh.
The spearhead of the England pace attack, he has been phenomenal this season. With 24 wickets in the Ashes series, he dismantled the Australian batting line up with sheer pace and his swinging ability. An experienced bowler, he is one of the best pacers in the world today along with Dale Steyn, Zaheer Khan and Brett Lee. Though injured at the moment, it’s highly likely that he would recover before India’s tour and would get the perfect rest before such a high-profile series which would decide to who actually deserves the #1 ranking. Pace and swing is all that he’s got, and with the England pitches he wouldn’t need anything more except the experience and intelligence which he’s god-gifted.
Apart from these players, there are many more players who have been in exceptional form. Just the fact, that these players have taken away the limelight from the other players. Andrew Strauss along with Ian Bell and Matt Prior also has notched up some outstanding performances. Ian Bell especially has been consistently performing. Kevin Pieterson, though injured for the moment he has been well impressive for England in a couple of matches himself. Even in the bowling department, Chris Tremlett has been phenomenal. Picking up 17 wickets in the Ashes tour and demolishing the Sri Lankan side along with Swann to win the test match which was always looking for a draw, he has given England a bowler to support Anderson.
A tough time ahead, India is not going to take this series lightly. M.S.Dhoni, the calmest ever captain the cricketing world would have ever seen, might know it better but it all falls down to square one. Defending the number 1 spot against a team like England is going to be tough. Laxman said,”I never got a 100 in England. Hopefully, it would be very special if I get a 100 at Lord’s and India wins the match,” Preparation has to be tough and I don’t think India will falter at this point atleast. A rivalry to watch out for, India-England has always been exceptional to watch. Right from early days, to taking out shirt incident by Andrew Flintoff and Ganguly mocking the same one, to Yuvraj Singh hitting Stuart Broad for 6 sixes in an over. There might be many more moments which I wouldn’t have been even aware about.
A tough schedule ahead, India-England is going to be an interesting tie to watch.