By Denzil Fernandes - Sports Editor, Daijiworld.com
London, Jul 13: It has always been said that there is no cricket rivalry better than the Ashes series between England and Australia. With the pommies and the aussies bent upon outwitting the other on the cricket field, the England versus Australia contests have always been a delight for all those cricket lovers. While the Ashes series has grown beyond one’s imagination and belief the forthcoming cricket battle between hosts England and India too promises much more excitement.
With dwindling fortunes for Australia and a surge in England’s performances, the pendulum of supremacy has shifted to other teams. Taking the lead from such developments has been Team India who have progressed with some fine players and notched up a leading place in the cricket hierarchy.
Under the circumstances, India’s tour to England starting on July 15 and ending on Sept.16 not only has great significance but also huge attention from every one in the world of cricket.
In the olden days, touring England for Indian teams was a living torture if one may say so. Unaccustomed to the moody weather with unpredictable rains during the game, windy and biting cold conditions plus the not so palatable food made any Indian cricketer feel home sick as soon as he landed. The ensuing results were all there to be seen when the Englishmen made hay not when the sun shone but when the winds were blowing. You could see the hapless Indians wearing as many sweaters as possible while on the field to protect from the merciless cold !
Today, however, the scene is totally different for the Indian cricketer. With better international exposure, they have adjusted to the playing conditions and managed to win creditably. With plenty of county experience for India’s top stars, Team India has gained a healthy reputation against other sides.
In England, India will play 4 Tests, followed by a one off T20 and 5 ODIs during their
two month tour which begins with a three day warm up match on July 15th. The first test on July 21 at Lords will also be the 100th test between England and India. They have played 99 Tests with India winning 19 and losing 34 matches. 46 matches have been drawn. The century of tests at the Mecca of cricket will be a test of character especially for India’s cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar who will also be aiming for his 100th century in tests. Sachin has never scored a century at Lords. Will he break that jinx and go on to create yet another record ??
Team India will find an England side full of spirit and plenty of winning capabilities especially after their recent series win against Sri Lanka. Under Andrew Strauss, England have become a formidable side and won well although they failed at the World Cup in the sub continent earlier. Players like Cook, Anderson, Swann, Broad, Pietersen, Tremlett and others have tasted success against top teams and will be determined to beat the Indians on home soil which will be to their advantage.
For Team India, the series is going to be a real tough one. Their experienced stars like Dravid and Laxman apart from Tendulkar have to lead the way if the others have to follow suit. There are other promising performers like Raina, Gambhir and skipper Dhoni.
But, for a change, the Englishmen will have to fear the bowling attack that will be spearheaded by Zaheer with Ishant, Munaf, Praveen and Sreesanth to lend support. One cannot forget the new all round talent of Harbhajan Singh who knows a thing or two about playing in England.
All in all, it should be an even contest and if one has to forecast the results of the series, one can safely that both sides will end up with equal honours. But a determined Dhoni can pull up a trick or two with the help of his bowlers who may prove to be a bit too much for the England batsmen. With Ishant in top form and Zaheer back after due rest, the English batsmen will be hard pressed to score runs easily.
With home advantage for England and a back to strength India team, a superb and nail biting contest is on the cards for every cricket lover.
Enjoy your cricket.