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IND vs ENG Test Series: India, England Aim To Forge New Paths At Trent Bridge

By on July 8, 2014

The last time India played a Test at Nottingham, the second Test of that fateful series of 2011, they were trounced by 319 runs.

But that was three years ago. Back then, India held the Test No. 1 ranking and England were No. 2. None of that exists anymore.

Both teams have slid down the rankings, have suffered ignominy and several of those players have either retired or lost their way.

IND vs ENG Test Series: MS Dhoni and Alastair CookAnyone suggesting the five-Test series would follow the same path as 2011 would be wrong. This tour is just what it is, a gruelling 42-day sojourn of India playing away from home, and a result from three years earlier doesn’t count for much.

Examples from the recent past would hint at a closer contest. Both India and England have lost their previous two Test series – India to South Africa and New Zealand and England to Australia and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s victory over England must give India confidence, for their lone Test win came at Headingley, widely known for its assistance to seamers, and Trent Bridge is no different. Indeed for Virat Kohli, who is on his first Test tour of England, past results don’t matter.

That India only retained four players from that ill-fated tour points to ridding themselves of the memories. That Rahul Dravid, the most successful player from that tour, has been given a mentor’s role this time, is a positive move.

And by indicating that Stuart Binny may take up the fifth bowler’s place in the XI on Wednesday, India have made all the right moves until now. So far, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has given the indication that his team will force England into making mistakes rather than wait for them, as is his wont.

Dhoni has often preferred to step off the gas at critical stages of Test matches, not going for the jugular when the opposition is on the mat; Johannesburg and Wellington immediately spring to mind. With a little more effort, they could have easily nailed those matches.

As far as Dhoni is concerned, he relies on his instincts and experience. How differently would he react to a 400 for 3 this time, or how he plans to keep his opposite number, Alastair Cook, tied down by the pressure of runs would make for interesting observation.

India’s inexperience is being touted as one of their biggest weaknesses on this tour, as Dhoni appears to be the only batsman with Test match experience in England, as Gautam Gambhir most likely won’t make the cut.

A lot was said about India’s famed batting line-up in 2011, and their failure was compounded by injuries to their main openers, Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. An 18-member squad was named for just that purpose, as 25 Test match days in a 42-day tour would require player rotation, albeit more in the bowling department.

If India’s last four Test matches were any indication, the batsmen’s inexperience has been their biggest motivator.

Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli have manfully shouldered responsibility and Murali Vijay’s patience at the top along with Ajinkya Rahane’s spark at No. 6 [he will most likely bat at five at Trent Bridge] are signs of adapting to conditions alien to them.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England’s fast bowling pair, operate on contrasting lengths and rely on different methods to take their wickets, while Liam Plunkett’s re-introduction to Test cricket has been full of 90 kmph thunderbolts. In theory, the English attack mirrors that of the South African Steyn-Philander-Morkel combine; and India’s batsmen weren’t too bad against them.

The reverse battle, that of the Indian bowlers against England’s batsmen, presents just as much intrigue. By not taking Zaheer Khan, they indicated how much they suffered in 2011 when he pulled up injured in the first session of the first Test at Lord’s.

Binny’s inclusion as the fourth seamer is more in keeping with giving the main fast bowlers a breather. At Johannesburg, India missed a fifth bowler and that meant longer spells for the three pacers. So having that experience in mind, Binny could very well be making his Test debut on Wednesday.

This series then, as Stuart Broad said on Monday, is a fresh start for both teams as India and England play a five-Test series after 55 years. At Trent Bridge, India will look to make a strong first impression, for past reputations won’t come in the way.

Probable XIs:

India: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Stuart Binny/Rohit Sharma, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Mohammed Shami.

England: 1 Sam Robson, 2 Alastair Cook (capt), 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Joe Root, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Ben Stokes, 8 Matt Prior/Jos Buttler (wk), 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Liam Plunkett.

Source: gocricket

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