After a long spell of rest and recuperation, England and India are back at it again. The hosts, as we’re fond of reminding everyone, failed to win a single international match in England, so they have some scores to settle.
India are without a whole host of senior players through a combination of injury and poor (read humiliatingly abysmal) form. Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj and Ishant Sharma are all injured, while Harbhajan Singh has been axed and Rahul Dravid has retired. It means that their squad, much like England’s, contains a number of younger players still making their way in the game. Unfortunately they have been unable to find room for a rotund, pie-chucking ‘all-rounder’, so have conceded ground to their opponents in that regard.
The selection of Stuart Meaker, which had everyone rushing to Google* and then collectively erupting in faux-outrage as they discovered he’s been on holiday to South Africa a couple of times, was the only real shock inclusion. Otherwise the touring party is a young one, but the actual starting XI is likely to be fairly experienced. The biggest test will be for the bowling unit which, without both Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, has played little cricket in India.
Seriously though, this will be a tough test for England. Their record in India in recent years is not brilliant, to say the least, culminating in a World Cup campaign in which they lurched from the sublime to the ridiculous on a ball-by-ball basis earlier this year. The difference between the current team and ODI sides of years gone by is that this one knows how to win. They’re coming up against an India side which may well benefit from being shorn of so many first choice players, players who were on the end of repeated beatings over the summer (oh look, we did it again). This is an opportunity for the next generation to state their case.
India are probably favourites; home advantage counts for a lot, but England have the psychological upper hand. It’s likely to be a very close series, so we’ll go for 3-2 to the tourists, who win a rain interrupted final match on Duckworth Lewis, leading to calls from the BCCI for it to be scrapped and replaced by a system of picking targets out of a hat.
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