India vs England 1st Test: Preview and Prediction
The highly anticipated England tour of India is on the brink of commencing, raising the pivotal question of whether the visiting team can maintain their aggressive cricket style, a hallmark of their play in recent years.
In the upcoming five-match test series, all eyes will be on Ben Stokes, leading the England Cricket Team, as they face a true test of their ‘Bazball’ cricket prowess. Cricket aficionados and pundits alike are eager to witness how they fare against Rohit Sharma‘s Indian team, with the inaugural match set to unfold at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Thursday.
Currently occupying the second spot in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) points table, India aims to assert dominance and potentially secure a series whitewash. In contrast, England, languishing in the eighth position, faces a challenging journey to climb the points ladder.
Recently, the Indian team encountered a setback with middle-order batter Virat Kohli making himself unavailable for the first two matches, citing personal reasons. Similarly, in the visitors’ camp, middle-order batsman Harry Brook has voluntarily withdrawn from the series for personal reasons, creating a void in their batting lineup.
What have they done so far?
The upcoming test series marks a return for the Indian Team, as it will be their first home test series since March 2023, following encounters with West Indies and South Africa in their last two away series.
In July of last year, India ventured to Dominica for the first test against West Indies, securing a dominant victory by an innings and 141 runs. However, their anticipated triumph in the second test at Trinidad was thwarted by rain, resulting in a drawn match.
In a bid to secure their maiden Test series win on South African soil, India faced a setback in the first match itself at Centurion, where they succumbed to a defeat by an innings and 32 runs. Nevertheless, the visitors rebounded in the second Test at Cape Town, claiming victory by 7 wickets.
Meanwhile, England makes a return to Test cricket after a hiatus since June/July 2023. In a non-WTC match at Lord’s Stadium in June, Ireland faced England in a one-sided encounter, with the hosts emerging victorious by 10 wickets.
The initiation of the new WTC cycle (2023-25) commenced with the Ashes 2023 in England. The gripping five-match series saw Australia take an early lead with two wins, but England responded strongly by securing victory in the third Test at Leeds. The fourth test ended in a draw, setting the stage for a hard-fought decider at The Oval, where England emerged victorious, resulting in a 2-2 scoreline for the series.
Head to Head Record
Since their test rivalry commenced in 1932, India and England have engaged in 131 matches. Currently, England leads with 50 victories, while India has claimed 31 wins. Notably, 50 matches have concluded in draws.
The last time England triumphed in a test series in India was in 2012, under the captaincy of Alastair Cook. During the 4-test series, England emerged victorious in two matches, while India managed to win only one, with one test concluding as a draw. Conversely, the last time when England toured India in 2021, India claimed victory in the 4-match test series by a margin of 3-1.
In the most recent Test series between these two sides, India travelled to England for five matches in 2021/22, and the series ended in a draw with a scoreline of 2-2.
Ravichandran Ashwin (India): Ravichandran Ashwin is poised to be the key player for the hosts, given his exceptional bowling figures, particularly on home turf. In 55 Home Test matches, Ashwin boasts an impressive record of 337 wickets at an average of 20.87 and an economy of 2.68. His prowess against England is evident in 19 Tests, where he has clinched 88 wickets, needing just 8 more to become India’s leading wicket-taker against England.
Furthermore, he stands on the cusp of joining the elite 500 Test wickets club, requiring just 10 more scalps to become the 9th overall and the 2nd Indian bowler to achieve this feat. Ashwin’s exceptional bowling record at Hyderabad includes 27 wickets in 4 matches, making him the highest wicket-taker at the venue at an average of 16.03.
Joe Root (England): On the other side, England’s star batsman, Joe Root, could pose a significant threat to the hosts, given his Striking track record on India Pitches. Root’s stellar Test batting stats in India include 952 runs in 10 matches at a splendid average of 50.10, featuring 2 centuries and 5 half-centuries.
Root’s standout performance in the 2021 tour, where he scored 218 runs in the series opener at Chennai and emerged as the highest run-scorer of the series with 368 runs in 4 matches at an average of 46, underscores his capability in challenging conditions. His overall test record against India is equally remarkable, with 2526 runs in 25 matches at an impressive average of 63.15.
Predicted Playing XIs
India: Rohit Sharma ©, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, KS Bharat (wk), Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj
England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Ben Stokes ©, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes (wk), Rehan Ahmed, Jack Leach, James Anderson, Mark Wood
Considering the historical statistics at Hyderabad, where the average first-innings score stands at an imposing 404 and the fourth-innings score dwindles to 131, winning the toss becomes crucial. Whichever team gains this advantage is likely to opt for batting first, exploiting a surface that gradually aids spinners as the match progresses.
Despite the notable absence of Kohli, the Indian Team retains its status as the clear favorite to secure victory in the series opener. However, they must exercise caution to prevent the English team from unleashing their distinctive ‘Bazball’ Brand of Cricket, which could potentially disrupt the anticipated comfort of an Indian triumph.