Former Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist has said that India are the favourites to win the five-match Test series against England. However, the legendary cricketer said that the visitors have made a strong statement with their performance in the ongoing first Test at Rajkot. Alastair Cook’s men, who suffered a shock defeat against Bangladesh a few days ago, proved their doubters wrong by scoring a mammoth 537 runs in the first innings of the series opener.

Speaking to India Today, Gilchrist said:“A five-Test series is tough to predict. I leave it to Glenn McGrath who would make these clean sweep predictions. But look India will start the favourites to win the series in these conditions. But an opening Test can be a statement and England has made one with the foundation they have laid.”

The retired batsman also heaped praise on the Indian team for giving priority to Test cricket. In one of their busiest home seasons, the Indian team is playing 13 Tests in six months.

Gilchrist said:“It’s good to see India playing so much Test cricket. To commit to Test cricket for a nation that plays a crucial role in shaping the way Test cricket goes, shows the rest of the world that it’s vitally important part of cricket. T20 is great, ODIs have a place but Test cricket is the original masterpiece.”

When asked whether Virat Kohli’s men would be able to inflict a whitewash on England, Gilchrist said:“It’s a long way to go in the Test match, not just the Test series. And it’s tough to draw too much judgement on one innings but I would think India will enjoy batting in these conditions. It’s a beautiful wicket and outfield. England has a young and vibrant team led very well by Alastair Cook. They had their challenge in Bangladesh but I think they will think they can do well here and they won’t be thinking 5-0.”

Meanwhile, the retired cricketer said that Australia would find it very challenging to play against India when they visit the country next year. Gilchrist, who was a part of the Australian team that won a Test series in India in 2004, said that the team from Down Under would have already started to think about the tour. Australia were blanked 4-0 on their last trip to India and they would have to play out of their skin to get a good result in the upcoming series. Gilchrist said that India would start the series as favourites but said that it is tough to choose a winner for the series so early.

“Australia’s record in the sub continent, not even recent times, starting to be a long term record, hasn’t been very good. From Australian cricket point of view, it makes a nasty reading. That’s something everyone from Darren Lehmann to captain Steve Smith are very aware of. They are currently focused on the South African series but their mind will be casting on the conditions here and they will be planning on how to go about it. It will be a great challenge. So India will start the favourites. But there is a lot of cricket to be played between now and then, to pinpoint who will win,” he said.

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