The first test of the bilateral series between India and England starts from Wednesday at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. This is the first of the five Test matches to be played between the two teams. India are looking to change their fortunes on the English soil after their disastrous performance during their last visit when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni led team lost 0-4 in a completely one sided series.
Dhoni will be looking forward from a positive display of batting from his batsmen. Except Gautam Gambhir, none of the top order batsmen that includes Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma has ever played a Test match in England. But Dhoni can take heart from the fact that their performance was pretty good in the couple of warm up matches that India played leading up to the first Test.
Former captain Rahul Dravid has already said that bowling will be a key to India’s success in this series. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami will be crucial in providing early breakthroughs for the visitors. If they pick up early wickets the work will be much easier for Ashwin and the other bowlers against the relatively inexperienced England middle order. Stuart Binny may get a chance given his seam bowling will be useful in the seaming conditions of Trent Bridge.
England on the other hand will be banking on their captain Alaistair Cook to successfully see off the new ball from Shami and Kumar. In the absence of Kevin Pietersen, a lot will depend on how Ian Bell, Joe Root plays in the middle order. Ben Stokes and Matt Prior also needs to contribute if England has to post a big score on the scoreboard. The presence of lots of right handers may help them to play Ashwin’s off spin good enough for the team’s cause. In the bowling department, James Anderson will be the strike bowler. With his experience and performance in seaming conditions, he will be a threat to the inexperienced Indian top order. Stuart Broad and Lium Plunkett needs to support him to keep the Indians checked from scoring a lot of runs.
The first match will definitely set the tone of the entire series and both the teams will be looking for a good start to the series. During their last tour, no Indian bastsman with the exception of Rahul Dravid could perform against the English bowlers in the seaming conditions. Dravid scored three centuries and was literally the lone man standing as India lost the series 0-4. This time Rahul Dravid had a few sessions with the Indian team’s batsmen ahead of their first test after being requested by MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher. He has shared his experience with the young Indian batsmen. Now it is to be seen how they perform under his guidance.