India vs England 1st Test at Trent Bridge, Preview: Fallible India look to prove themselves in tough conditions
By Devarchit Varma August 3, 2021
Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Time: 3:30PM IST
Average score at venue: 329
Win percentage while batting first: 100%
The BCCI shared a photo of the pitch on which India and England will play the opening Test match of the series, three days out from the contest. The pitch, back then, sported a huge grass cover.
While it did spark a debate on social media among Indian cricket fans who wondered where the pitch was and how it would be like on the match day, it remains to be seen how much of the grass is retained come Wednesday. The groundsmen in England tend to shave off much of the grass after keeping it on days leading up to much is to hold a pitch together.
Fast bowlers have a greater wicket-share percentage at this venue with 86.49% of wickets coming in their kitty and spinners getting only 13.51%.
There are thundershowers or rain interventions expected on all four days of the opening Test match barring the first day of the contest to be played at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. While players have to deal with a high humidity percentage close to 90% on some days, the temperature will hit a high of 20°C during daytime.
Matches played: 126
India won: 29
England won: 48
AT TRENT BRIDGE, NOTTINGHAM:
Matches played: 7
India won: 2
England won: 2
Top 3 players from India: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mohammad Shami
Top 3 players from England: Joe Root, James Anderson, Stuart Broad
Top picks for H2H/WTA contest (top 5 players each)
Top 5 players from India: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant
Top 5 players from England: Joe Root, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jonny Bairstow, Rory Burns
Should I pick more bowlers, batsmen or all-rounders?
The old adage in Test cricket is all about taking 20 wickets to win a Test match but it is needless to say that batsmen carry an equally important role in the conventional format of the game. The bowlers certainly need some runs to bowl at or defend, particularly in the first innings or else they cannot stick to their bowling plans necessarily. An equal balance to the side with specialist players for specific conditions can work wonders. Stuart Broad would be someone who is completely aware of the local situations and conditions since this happens to be his hometown. But India will also be confident starting the series at the venue the last recorded their only Test victory on the tour, which was powered by Virat Kohli’s 97, 81 from Ajinkya Rahane and a superb five-wicket haul for Hardik Pandya. Adding more to the batting depth and carrying plenty of bowling options in the pace bowling department would be the right way to go for this opening match of the series.
From which team should I pick more players in my XI? Which team is stronger?
England are the home team but it does not necessarily mean that they have all the requisite weapons and firepower in their ranks to pull off a victory as commanding as their preceding sides have been able to against India. There is a lot of young talent which is inexperienced in the English ranks, which puts them at par against the experienced but fallible Indian batting line-up which tends to misfire in testing conditions. At the end, a fantasy cricket XI team should be well-balanced given that bowlers who can also chip in with the bat might come in handy at crucial moments in the game. Additionally, with both England and India coming off a one month break from red-ball cricket, it remains to be seen which players are in form and which are not.
Players’ form: England captain Joe Root scored a couple of half centuries against Sri Lanka in their ODI series which might indicate the form that he is in. But in any circumstance, England will need their skipper and the most experienced batsmen in the lineup to fire on all cylinders if they are to apply scoreboard pressure on India. There is plenty of young talent in the form of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and even Ollie Pope — provided he is fit for the contest — which makes the series an exciting one to watch. For India, after a disastrous performance with the bat in the Cricket world test championship final against New Zealand, it is imperative that their batting core in Kohli, Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma step up on the occasion and make the most of the opportunity. India will certainly be worried over the form and rhythm of Jasprit Bumrah who has not been in his usual elements with the red ball in hand.
Changes in squad (if any): YES
INDIA (IND): Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj/Jasprit Bumrah.
ENGLAND: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler/Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson.
Rohit Sharma, Rory Burns, Joe Root (c), Virat Kohli (vc), Dan Lawrence, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, James Anderson, Stuart Broad.
Fallible India look to prove themselves in tough conditions
For what it is worth, this could be the last time that the famed Indian batting line-up consisting of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma is playing Test cricket in England.
Having been to several disappointing tours of England wherein they have tasted failures more than success in Test cricket, this could possibly be yet another opportunity for this Indian team to conquer what was touted as the final frontier not long ago.
India did falter at the first stage against New Zealand in the Cricket WTC final in June, but this upcoming five-match Test series for the Pataudi Trophy provides them with another opportunity to resurrect their part and project themselves as a worthy competitor for the top spot in Cricket rankings, a post which they held for about four long years until recently.
The going has been extremely difficult for Indian cricket in England with the red ball. A team consisting of several legends in 2011 was hammered 4-0, they took a vital 1-0 lead in 2014 but ended up losing the series 3-1, and in the last trip, it is argued that the result of 4-1 in favour of England would have been a lot different had India not faltered on crucial moments.
India have all the firepower in their ranks to get the better of England this time around but they will have to do better in tough phases, particularly when the home team is staging a comeback or is taking control away from them. Sam Curran was able to do so for England several times in the previous series, which was the difference between the two sides, as acknowledged by India coach Ravi Shastri.
Apart from the usual batsmen, India also have KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant who both scored a six each on the previous tour of England. The presence of Hanuma Vihari does make some selection troubles but India would perhaps do well by trusting their best players in the Cricket WTC final to start with.
Mayank Agarwal has been ruled out of the test match at Nottingham following a head-to-head head which resulted in concussion for the opening bank. At this junction, Rahul should feel confident of making it to the playing XI since he also scored a crucial century in the tour match against Select County XI in Durham.
England are certainly brittle in their batting lineup and susceptible to batting collapses in tense situations. They are coming off a series defeat to New Zealand at home and will be under some degree of pressure given that this is the start of the second cycle of Cricket World Test Championship and they were out of race to the final early.
The absence of Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, perhaps for the whole series in the case of the fiery fast bowler as well, makes England look slightly less dangerous than they would normally do. But playing at home, England should be confident of a strong showing in front of their home crowds who will be allowed in the stadium for this series.
Devarchit Varma is a cricket writer and journalist with an experience of more than a decade, having worked at Hindustan Times (newspaper) and CricketCountry (website). Along with covering international and domestic cricket, he has also interviewed several current and former top players such as Rohit Sharma, Steve Smith, Dale Steyn, Michael Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson, Lasith Malinga and many more. He has also worked in other beats as a journalist in Bollywood (Reliance BigOye) and IT (SiliconIndia) industries.
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