New Delhi, January 31
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell reckons India will start as favourites in the Test series against England owing to a quality pace attack with plenty of depth and a top order that is more consistent than the visitors’.
What should also bolster the home team is the addition of captain Virat Kohli to a strong batting line-up and their incredible recent triumph in Australia.
“India will start as favourites after an exhilarating victory over Australia, overcoming all obstacles. When you add the name Virat Kohli to the batting order, the team suddenly assumes a bulletproof cloak,” Chappell wrote in his column for ‘ESPNcricinfo’.
“In also adding the names R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma to the list of available players, India take on an unbeatable appearance.”
The big-ticket series starts in Chennai on February 5.
Chappell feels India’s formidable top order may tip the scales in favour of the home team, despite England’s 2-0 sweep of Sri Lanka recently.
“…The availability of a premium player in Ben Stokes who, like (Hardik) Pandya, provides all-round ability and selection flexibility, albeit at a higher level than the Indian, is a big plus. And Jofra Archer adds substantially to the quality of an already strong pace attack.
“However it’s the top of the England order, where another returning player, Rory Burns, will reside, that the scales tip in India’s favour.
“India’s top three feature an impressive Shubman Gill, a talented but flawed Rohit Sharma and the indomitable Cheteshwar Pujara, which places them well ahead of England’s top order.” He says it will add a lot of pressure on Joe Root if the duo of Dom Silbey and Rory Burns fails.
“Dom Sibley possesses the grit and determination required for success at the highest level but there are questions about his technique against the best international bowlers.
“Burns is another in the same category as Sibley, and if both players fail the challenges England will be in trouble unless Joe Root continues to score at his current freakish level.
“Zak Crawley, like his Indian counterpart Gill, is talented and has great potential. Nevertheless his failure to contribute in Sri Lanka raises concerns that need to be put to rest quickly and there’s no better place or time to do that than in India.”
He also spoke about the bowling attack of both the teams, saying there is not much difference in that department.
“The presence of Archer, along with the skill and experience of stalwarts Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, would normally provide England with an advantage in the pace department.
“However India’s improvement in that category is amply illustrated by their performance in matching Australia’s much-vaunted pace attack in two successive away series.
“Not only does India now have quality pace bowling but they also have it in comforting quantities following the depth displayed in Australia.”
Even the middle order of both teams is equally strong, according to Chappell.
“Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant and the possible addition of Pandya have India well placed to take full advantage of any good start.
“England are similarly placed with Stokes and Jos Buttler as their lethal weapons. The possible return of Ollie Pope would add some dependability to the threatening nature of that section of the batting order.
“However Buttler’s departure after just one Test and the possible return of Ravindra Jadeja to the Indian line-up would swing the scales further in favour of the home team.” PTI