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Preview: England vs India, 1st Test

Teams in transition look for a positive start

What

First Test of the five-match series between India and England

When

July 9 to 13, 2013

Where

Trent Bridge, Nottingham

The Teams


India

This Indian team may lack experience, but this is one unit that oozes confidence and fearlessness. The crux of the team may not have had much exposure overseas, but the Indian captain has instilled faith in this young unit and reiterated the fact that the team is getting better overseas. India have all the batting flavor they need in that line-up. If they have the calm of Cheteshwar Pujara at No.3, they have controlled aggression in Virat Kohli at 4. MS Dhoni has stressed on the fact that the preparations ahead of the first Test has been productive with batsmen getting runs and the bowlers ‘bowling in the right areas’. Ishant Sharma would be looking to lead the pace attack sans Zaheer Khan and the team composition will make for an interesting read after the toss of the coin at Trent Bridge. If conditions favour seam bowlers, Dhoni might consider giving all-rounder Stuart Binny a nod which would give more seam options for the captain and the much needed meat with the bat lower down the order.

England

A refreshed and relaxed England captain Alastair Cook seemed quite excited ahead of the first of five match Test series against India. Familiar opponents, good results against them home and away and Cook & company have every right to be confident this Test series. They might be coming off a Test series loss against Sri Lanka, but they sure cannot be taken lightly. Like India, even England might be missing the services of a few experienced key players, but have an exciting team on paper. It is a young batting line-up and it would be up to Ian Bell and Alastair Cook’s experience to lead the batting surge against an unpredictable Indian bowling attack. Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior did suffer a thigh strain, but the England captain was most certain that Prior would take part in the first Test. Jos Buttler has been called in as cover though. England would be pretty confident of their bowling as India could well feel the shivers of Stuart Broad and James Anderson under their throats. 

Key Players

India

Ever since Sachin Tendulkar has left that No.4 spot vacant, Virat Kohli has been touted to fill those shoes. Those are huge shoes to fill for sure, but Virat Kohli has been the man in form over the last few Test series having scored Test tons in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. He is yet to play a Test match in England, and he would consider this as the litmus test in his career. He is one player that England would be wary of as he is one of the vital cogs in the Indian batting line-up.

England

On a personal note, Cook has not been having the best of times after having suffered a loss in the recently concluded home Test series against Sri Lanka. His captaincy has come under scrutiny and his bat too hasn’t done much of the talking. Cook has reiterated the fact that he is not out of form, and it is all about getting into the groove soon. Cook has enjoyed success against India and he would want to believe that this is his best opportunity to get back in form. 24 innings without a Test ton sure do not make for good reading for the England captain and this 5-match Test series is important for Cook the captain and Cook the batsman.

Stat-Attack

1. Average first innings score at Trent Bridge, Nottingham:

Overall – 323

Since 2000 - 321

2. Average second innings score at Trent Bridge, Nottingham:

Overall – 306

Since 2000- 308

3. Result summary at Trent Bridge, Nottingham:

Matches

Won by side batting 1st

Won by side batting 2nd

Drawn

Overall

21

16

22

Since 2000

7

4

2

4. Head-to-head:

 

Mts

Ind won

Eng won

Drawn

Overall

107

20

40

47

in England

52

5

27

20

at Trent Bridge

5

1

2

2


5. Last meeting between both sides at Trent Bridge, Nottingham:

Brief scores:
July 29 – Aug 1, 2011

England (221 & 544) India (288 & 158). England won by 319 runs.

6. Form guide (most recent listed first):

India: Drawn, Lost, Lost, Drawn, Won

England: Lost, Drawn, Lost, Lost, Lost

The Squads

India: M.S. Dhoni (C & WK), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Pankaj Singh.

England (1st Test): Alastair Cook (C), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Balance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior (WK), Sam Robson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes

News

We’ll groom Binny for all-rounder role: Dhoni

Captain feels he can be the answer to India’s need for seam all-rounder

It was no surprise that most questions MS Dhoni fielded ahead of India’s first Test of the England series were directed at the bowling attack. He was probed whether India will go in with five bowlers or will consider playing two spinners. And the matter of a seam all-rounder came up as usual.

The Indian captain explained the permutations and combination in detail without giving away much about the attack he is going to field at Trent Bridge.

“We have often spoken about the lack of a genuine seam all-rounder which forces you to play three fast bowlers and a spinner,” Dhoni said. “With the wicket not turning, a lot of workload has to be shouldered by the fast bowlers.”

This time, however, India do have a seam bowling all-rounder in their ranks in Stuart Binny. Dhoni said if groomed and prepared properly, he can become India’s answer in overseas Tests in the long run.

“Stuart is someone who can swing the ball and can also bat well. We need somebody who can bowl those 10 overs and bat a bit. He may not be as good as a Jacques Kallis but if we give him the chances and groom him, in the coming six to eight months he will be doing that job for us. He has the talent and the potential,” the Indian captain said.

When asked if they will contemplate going in with a two-pronged spin attack, Dhoni said it was almost out of question in the English conditions.

“The first thing teams make sure when we tour overseas is that the wicket doesn’t offer any turn, at least on the first three days of the Test. So, I don’t think we even have to think on the lines of playing two spinners,” Dhoni said. “Out of the five Tests here, we may get one wicket where we can play two spinners but they will try their best to take the spinners out of equation by ensuring the ball doesn’t turn. So, we’re not confused about our playing XI as of now.”

However, Dhoni stressed that the importance of spinners cannot be underplayed in Test cricket, as they often can change the game in the final sessions of a Test. He said in is during these phases that England will miss someone like Graeme Swann.

“It will be crucial to take the game into the fourth and fifth day when the bowlers’ footmarks get slightly bigger and can be exploited by the spinners even if there is not turn in the wicket. That’s the time when a team needs a genuine spinner. So, spinners will always remain a crucial part of Test cricket.”

As for his young pace attack, the Indian skipper seemed pleased with the way they have utilized the 15 days they have been here, in strengthening their fitness, skills and adapting to the conditions.

“We’ve done a lot of work in the last few days in terms of the fast bowlers’ fitness and now we are in a period where we are easing down their workload,” Dhoni said. “From how things have gone in the practice sessions so far, they have been bowling the right lengths and making the batsmen play, which is very crucial in these conditions.

“If we don’t have injuries like we did in the last series here, we are moving in the right direction. Ishant has been bowling well in the nets and he will be important because he gets a little more bounce than the rest of our bowlers.”

Shifting the focus from bowling, Dhoni spoke of the impact that Rahul Dravid’s presence has had on the squad in the last few days.

“We wanted a mentor in the side who could talk about his own past experiences in England,” Dhoni said of the former captain. “It wasn’t about making technical changes because it is very difficult to change yourself in 10 days, but more about him interacting with the youngsters about the conditions here and how to adapt to them.

“The good thing is these young boys are quite comfortable talking to him. We noticed that in South Africa when he was part of the commentary team. If he was hanging around, the boys would go up to him, have a chat with him about cricket and other things,” the skipper said.

Stressing on what he mentioned before leaving for England, Dhoni said he will look to play the role of an attacking batsman at No. 6.

“It will be one of the crucial things here for us because that is the position from where you can change the game if you get a few boundaries and bat positively. That is generally also a phase where the ball is a bit older and the bowlers are tired, although it also depends on the start that you’ve had.”