England get their Test series against India underway at Trent Bridge on Wednesday 4 August and will be keen to hit the ground running against opponents that could prove to be very tough. Although in a five-match series it is not essential to get off to a winning start, it doesn’t half settle the nerves in a contest that is set to be tightly contested throughout.
The Venue: Previous England v India Tests at Trent Bridge
There have been 7 Tests played between the two sides at Trent Bridge with India experiencing previous success at the Nottingham ground (Eng 2, Draw 3, India 2). India won the series winning Test match at the ground in 2007 also winning their only Test in a 4-1 series defeat in 2018.
Last Match: 3rd Test at Trent Bridge – 18-22 August 2018
India 328 (V Kohli 97, A Rahane 81, J Anderson 3/64, S Broad 3/72, C Woakes 3/75)
England 161 (H Pandya 5/28)
India 352/7d (V Kohli 103, C Pujara 72, H Pandya 52*, A Rashid 3/101)
England 317 (J Buttler 106, B Stokes 62, J Bumrah 5/85)
India won by 203 runs.
ENGLAND TEAM NEWS
Joe Root will be hoping the memories of a 3-1 series defeat in India this winter can be put to bed in English conditions. The pitches in England could be a great leveller, as the sub-continent dust bowls in the winter proved to be an advantage for India.
England are without Ben Stokes (a break for mental heath reasons) and the injured Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes.
They have also not had the perfect preparation for a Test series where the problematic top order are hoped to step up and bat long. The Hundred is rumbling on and the ECB used England players to kickstart the tournament. The batsmen will be expected to bat longer than 100 balls and could find themselves undercooked for the rigours of Test cricket.
Joe Root has comfortably been England’s best batsman in recent years and, without the absent Ben Stokes, even more pressure is on his shoulders to churn out the runs.
With Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope failing to achieve consistency and, in varying degrees, yet to nail down their places longer term, the England skipper will be hoping at least a couple of the aforementioned find some form and help him out. Jos Buttler must also fill the void left by Stokes.
There are three batsmen that could play a big part in the series should fortune and selections allow. Two youngsters in Haseeb Hameed and Dan Lawrence could provide competition for places and an older hand in Jonny Bairstow may get another opportunity.
Hameed debuted in India in November 2016 but suffered a broken finger and his career took a nosedive. He lost his way at Lancashire, but a move to Nottinghamshire has reignited his game and he has admitted that “cricket is fun again.” He has been churning out centuries this summer, including one for the County Select XI against India on the day he was named in the Test squad. Now 24 and hungry again, the teenager Kohli described as a “star of the future” now has a future to look forward to again.
Lawrence may only be averaging 29.90 in his seven Tests, but he appears to have the temperament and ability to go up a level and should start with Ollie Pope not expected to be fit for the first Test. Bairstow has become one of the best white ball cricketers in the world but has struggled in Tests and may get another chance to show what he can do in Stokes’ absence.
With the Tests coming thick and fast the pace attack may be rotated. In Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, England have a feared opening attack that now boast 1,140 Test scalps between them. England will seek to play them together as much as possible and Mark Wood will be picked when the tracks are expected to allow pace and bounce.
But again, it could be support cast that shine if England play well. Ollie Robinson took seven wickets on his England debut before his suspension for offensive tweets posted when a teenager. He could well get another opportunity in a bid to exploit India’s weaknesses against the moving ball. Both Robinson and Sam Curran could play as both add depth to the batting.
Jack Leach would surely have played as the main spin bowler of Stokes was around and, as he showed in the winter, has what it takes to look the Indian batsmen in the eye and take wickets. He has admitted his frustration at not playing a home Test since 2019 and is due a fair run but may miss out again as England struggle to balance a side missing their key all-rounder.
INDIA TEAM NEWS
Virat Kohli will determined to take India’s first series win on English soil since 2007 and the team has significant belief in its ability to achieve that goal. They followed an incredible series win in Australia with a 3-1 success over England in India in the winter and will be seeking to exploit their host’s top order batting frailties as they seek to be more consistent against the moving ball themselves.
India start as the outsiders but could give England a very stern test and it would not be a surprise to see them win at least two Tests.
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are the stars of the Indian top order, and both need to fire to get India off to a solid footing in the series, while Cheteshwar Pujara is the glue that binds them together. Shubman Gill is ruled out of the series by injury and it seems likely that Mayank Agarwal will open with Rohit at Trent Bridge.
Prithvi Shaw And Suryakumar Yadav have flown into England but will not be available until the Third Test after serving their Covid quarantine. In the meantime, Hanuma Vihari and KL Rahul would fight it out should vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, a stylish no.5 miss out after a hamstring issue saw him miss the three-day warm up match.
Rishabh Pant is one of the most exciting cricketers across all formats and is not a player to die wondering. Pant punches his way out of trouble and can change a game in the blink of an eye and appears to have recovered from testing positive for Covid in mid-July. He could illuminate this series with his attacking batting displays.
The tourists look set to play two spinners to provide variation. They will seek to probe England’s weakness against the spinning ball and both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are quality exponents of their art and also add depth to the batting.
Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were India’s pace attack in the World Test Championship final and should start at Trent Bridge, but Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj are likely to feature as the series progresses.
ENGLAND’S LIKELY XI
Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Haseen Hameed, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson
INDIA’S LIKELY XI
Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.
THE TWO BEST BETS FOR THE FIRST TEST
- India to win the First Test @ 31/10 with VBet
Given their good record at Trent Bridge and their opportunity to catch an England side cold the tourists provide the betting value. The England batsman have warmed up for a huge Test series by playing The Hundred, which is not great preparation.
- Haseeb Hameed to be Top England Batsman @ 5/1 with Bet365
The in-form Nottinghamshire batsman, if selected, has enjoyed a terrific summer so far and has what it takes to go big on his return to the England XI on his new home ground at Trent Bridge.