Virat Kohli and his men are to face their biggest challenge on foreign soil starting tomorrow. The test series is beautifully poised as India won the T20 series while England pulled back the ODI series. The history also doesn’t favour India. India has won only 3 series in the swinging English conditions. The first one being in 1971 under captain Ajit Wadekar, then under Kapil Dev in 1984 and the last one being in 2007 under skipper Rahul Dravid. The last two tours were dismal to say the least for India as in 2011 India lost 4-0 and in 2014 by a margin of 3-1.
But, this time around both the teams are well balanced. India has experienced players in Virat Kohli, Murli Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin and the newbies KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav. Here are the 5 players to look out for in this test series.
1. Virat Kohli :
Virat Kohli had a nightmare of a tour in 2014 with scores of 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6 and 20 in five Tests at a poor average of 13.50 but post this series he toured Australia where he smashed 4 centuries, amassing 639 runs in four test matches, the most by an Indian. There hasn’t been looking back for Virat since then. He has scored 6 double centuries until now. He later took over as the captain from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and has won 21 Test matches out off 35 matches played, having lost only 5. He has an enviable ODI record but his Test stats will also put many to shame. He has scored 5,554 runs at an average of 53.40 including 21 centuries. India’s chances in this series are mostly depended on his performance.
2. Ajinkya Rahane :
The Vice-captain of the Indian cricket team has centuries against all top test playing nations. He is the only player from this current lot to have a century at the Mecca of cricket – Lords in the 2014 tour. His temperament , gentleman attitude and batting skills is compraed to that of The Wall- Rahul Dravid. He has scored 2,883 runs in the 44 Test matches at an average of 43.68, which includes 9 centuries and a top score of 188. Apart from his batting, his slip catching is one of the best in the current team and which is the most important field position in the swinging English conditions.
3. KL Rahul :
KL Rahul might not play in the first test match as Shikhar Dhawan would be the first choice opener along with Murli Vijay but Dhawan’s twin ducks have made his case strong. Rahul has a brilliant technique and could only be compared to the greats in the game. He might be among the few players in the current lot whose game is suitable for all forms of the game. In the 24 Test matches that he has played he has scored 1512 runs at an average of 40.86, including 4 centuries and 11 half tons. His highest score is 199 against England.
4. Ravichandran Ashwin :
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal might have grabbed the spot of R Ashwin in the limited format of the game but he is Virat’s go to man in Test cricket. Although, records on foreign soil elude Ashwin but the fact that the English team has a size-able number of inexperienced players to spin and even the experienced ones weren’t able to pick Kuldeep Yadav in the limited overs, puts a strong case for Ashwin. He has taken 26 five wicket hauls and 7 ten wicket hauls. Ashwin has picked up 316 wickets in 58 matches becoming the fastest to pick up 300 wickets. His batting skills are also good. He has scored 2,163 runs at an average of 51.91 including 4 centuries.
5. Ishant Sharma :
Ishant is the most experienced pace bowler in India at present. The lanky pacer when debuted back in 2007-08 created quite a stir by rattling the likes of Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist with his speed and bounce. Over the years, Ishant’s speed has dropped significantly but he has now become deceptive with his line and length. In the 82 Test matches, he has picked up 238 wickets. He has 7 five wicket hauls and a ten wicket haul under his belt. India’s last victory in England at Lords was courtesy Ishant’s impressive bowling in the last innings. He rattled the England team and emerged with his career best figures of 7/74.
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