Pay­back time as In­dia seek Eng­land Test re­venge

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

TOP-RANKED In­dia will look to set­tle old scores, un­leash­ing their spin­ners on a frag­ile-look­ing Eng­land when the first Test of a five-match se­ries be­gins in Ra­jkot to­mor­row. Eng­land were the last team to win a Test se­ries on In­dian soil, com­ing from be­hind to tri­umph 2-1 in 2012 but In­dia are cur­rently en­joy­ing an im­pres­sive run.

Tal­is­manic cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli has scored two Test dou­ble cen­turies this year and has led his side to four se­ries wins in a row af­ter tak­ing over the cap­taincy in 2015.

Re­cent vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing a white­wash of New Zealand, have not only dimmed mem­o­ries of three con­sec­u­tive Test se­ries de­feat to Eng­land – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – but also whet­ted In­dia’s ap­petite for re­venge.

Their prospects have been boosted by the re­cently sparkling form of Ravichan­dran Ash­win, who be­came the sec­ond quick­est bowler to reach 200 wick­ets dur­ing In­dia’s 3-0 de­mo­li­tion of the Black Caps.

The off-spin­ner will look to ex­ploit an Eng­land bat­ting line-up that strug­gled on slow and low pitches dur­ing their re­cent tour of Bangladesh, which saw them lose to the Test new­com­ers for the first time.

“Ash­win is a good bowler. He uses his vari­a­tions very well, es­pe­cially the way he ap­proaches the crease. He’s al­ways look­ing to at­tack­ing and out­fox a bats­man,” former Eng­land star Kevin Pi­etersen told The Crick­eter mag­a­zine.

Alas­tair Cook’s men, fourth in the world rank­ings, were cut down to size by teenage Bangladeshi spin­ner Me­hedi Hasan who bagged 19 wick­ets from the two games last month.

The sec­ond Test up­set also re­minded Eng­land of short­com­ings in their own spin­ning de­part­ment but Cook said he was con­fi­dent that Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and rookie Za­far An­sari would de­liver, de­spite just hav­ing 105 wick­ets be­tween them.

Eng­land have also brought back 39-year-old Gareth Batty while Pak­istan great Saqlain Mush­taq is on-hand to men­tor the spin­ners as they con­front a for­mi­da­ble In­dian bat­ting line-up.

Mush­taq is likely to have a calm­ing ef­fect in a dress­ing room, and Cook be­lieves his side will bounce back from the Bangladesh de­feat.

“Ev­ery time this side has been ques­tioned we’ve al­ways found a way of im­prov­ing,” he said.

Eng­land’s mid­dle-or­der also looks shaky with Gary Bal­lance av­er­ag­ing just 18 in his last eight in­nings.

Their pace de­part­ment will also suf­fer from the ab­sence of Jimmy An­der­son, Eng­land’s all-time lead­ing wicket-taker with 463, who has re­cov­ered from a shoul­der in­jury but not in time for the first Test.

In­dia have some nag­ging con­cerns at the top of the bat­ting or­der. De­spite try­ing out five dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions in their last 14 Tests, In­dia have failed to post a cen­tury open­ing part­ner­ship.

Adding spice to the se­ries is the de­ci­sion re­view sys­tem (DRS) which In­dia have agreed to use for the first time on a trial ba­sis af­ter re­sist­ing it for so long.

The Ra­jkot match will be fol­lowed by Tests in Visakhapatnam, Mo­hali, Mum­bai and Chennai. –

Photo: AFP

In­dian bowler Ravichan­dran Ash­win cel­e­brates the wicket of NZ bats­man James Nee­sham in the third Test cricket match on Oc­to­ber 10.

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