India goes in as huge betting favorites in the four-match home test series against England. India just won a four-test series in Australia 2-1 and are brimming with confidence as they look forward to playing England in the sub-continent.
However, England is not to be taken lightly as they have just completed a two-test tour of Sri Lanka and have played impressive cricket to win the series 2-0. Unlike other test series of the sub-continent, this England team is a lot more familiar with the conditions as the second test finished on Jan 25.
Can Joe Root Replicate His Success?
The biggest challenge for England in sub-continental conditions will be their batting. England won the test series mostly because of their team effort in the bowling department but mainly because of the batting effort of their captain Joe Root.
Joe Root is regarded as one of the best batsmen in the world when it comes to the test format. Root is usually grouped along with some of the other modern greats including Indian captain Virat Kohli, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Steve Smith from Australia.
Root scored 228 in the first test and followed it up with a 186 in the second test. He won the man of the match awards in the first and second test and also clinched the man of the series award as he scored more than 400 runs in these two tests.
The big question is whether Joe Root will be able to replicate that kind of batting success in India against India. While Sri Lanka has some decent spinners, they are not of the same quality as R Ashwin and R Jadeja. England will not have to worry about R Jadeja during this test series but K Yadav and A Patel are still going to be a challenge.
The big concern for England will be whether the rest of the batsmen will be able to step up and form a partnership with Joe Root. England do not have Jonny Bairstow in their squad for the first two tests and will rely heavily on the likes of Jos Butler and Ben Stokes.
Bowling Unit Looks Impressive
The England bowling unit in Sri Lanka looked a lot more impressive than the batting unit. While the spinners are generally the ones that do the damage in countries like India and Sri Lanka, James Anderson showed why he is still one of the best bowlers in the world.
Anderson did not play the first test but bowled beautifully in the first innings of the second test and took 6 wickets. Dom Bess picked up 8 wickets in the first test and Jack Leach picked up 6 in the first test. The two combined against in the second test and picked up 4 wickets apiece.
England will once again depend on all of their bowlers to deliver in the India series as they know that they will need to get 20 wickets if they are going to win.
England Squad For First Two Tests
One of the keys for England to win the series is to see if they can win the first test and put pressure on India. For that to happen, it is important for the selectors to get the playing XI right. We take a look at the England squad for the first two tests.
Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess, Rory Burns, Ben Foakes, Zak Crawley, Jack Leach, Dom Lawrence, Olly Stone, Dom Sibley and Chris Woakes.