Two of cricket’s strongest teams England and India are set to battle it out in a five-match Test series, starting August 4. Going into the Test series against England, who themselves can be vulnerable, India will start as the underdogs. Both teams have exciting personnel on offer and in seaming and swinging conditions, a severe challenge awaits Kohli & Co.
Battles to watch out for –
1.Ben Stokes vs Ajinkya Rahane
England all-rounder Ben Stokes will be aiming to make his presence felt against India as he is expected to recover from the finger injury. Stokes has upped his impact in Test cricket of late and is a true match-winner. His exploits against Ajinkya Rahane will be worth watching. Stokes has claimed 163 Test scalps, including 34 against India. In England, Stokes has accounted for 21 wickets against India from six Tests. Meanwhile, Rahane enjoys batting in challenging conditions outside Asia and will be pivotal in India’s middle-order. Rahane, who has 4,647 runs in Tests, has gone on to register 556 runs on English soil against the Three Lions. He has one ton and four fifties. When it comes to the head-to-head battle between the two players, Rahane amassed just seven runs from 24 balls in 2014 against Stokes in England. In the 2018 Test series here, he was dismissed twice by Stokes, who conceded 43 runs from 98 balls against the Indian vice-captain. Rahane needs to be patient and make sure he thwarts off Stokes who can be significant with the old ball.
2.Virat Kohli vs James Anderson
The battle between Virat Kohli and James Anderson has been going on since 2014 where Kohli immensely struggled in the line outside off stump as on most occasions he ended up edging them towards the slips cordon. But just as how times changed, Kohli’s approach saw a sudden shift as while comparing his 2014 statistics against Anderson to his 2018 statistics, there was a considerable difference.
In 2014, Anderson dismissed Kohli four times in 50 balls while in 2018 Anderson failed to dismiss Kohli on all occasions. It would now remain to see how Kohli would fare up against Anderson during the Test series in India
- Stuart Broad Vs Cheteshwar Pujara
Stuart Broad is the 7th highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, and the second England bowler to have taken over 500 (517) wickets in the whites. He also has an excellent record against India in Tests and has taken 70 wickets at an average of 25.67. The right-arm pacer was in his element in the first innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka, where he picked up 3 wickets, giving away just 20 runs. Broad will be up against a batsman who will grind his way to glory, a batsman who is solid and difficult to dislodge. Cheteshwar Pujara enters the series on the back of a resolute 56 against Australia at The Gabba
- Ravichandran Ashwin Vs Joe Root
Ashwin is closing in on 400 wickets in Test cricket. The off-spinner is a behemoth at home in the whites, and his numbers stand testimony to the same. The spin bowling maestro has taken 254 wickets at home at an average of just 22.80, and 21 out of his 27 five-wicket hauls in Tests have come on home soil. He will be up against a man who ripped apart the Sri Lankan bowling attack, scoring over 400 runs in the two-match Test series. Joe Root will be high on confidence after a riveting performance against the islanders, where he bagged the Man of the Series award.
The way the battle plays out between Ashwin and Root will be highly intriguing to witness.
5.Jack Leach vs Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant has been a revolution in the Indian middle-order for the Test side, the aggressive intent in his batting almost won India the match in Sydney while in Brisbane the young man’s berzerk batting display led to India sealing the series off.
If you noticed, Rishabh Pant took the charge of Nathan Lyon on all occasions, it didn’t matter to him whether Lyon is one of the best off-spinners in the World, the only thing that mattered was his aim to help India win the Test. Similarly, how he attacked Lyon, expect the same treatment to Moeen Ali and Jack Leach when the two go up against Rishabh Pant in India. Let’s not be surprised if Pant decides to take on both the spinners right from ball one.