King Kohli and his boys have a humongous responsibility ahead. The exultation of triumphing over Joe Root’s men on the latter’s soil would take unprecedented heights if at all, Team India can pull it off this time around. Of course, defeating England (the first in the five-Test series kicks off today at Trent Bridge) in England is always sweet, but it will have come amid the awful fare of our Olympians who have failed to live up to our hopes and hankering.
Setting aside a few exceptions, the Tokyo sojourn has been gloomy to say the least. Crores of spending in a bid to improve on the medal list have bitten the dust and the news of our athletes’ lily-livered attitude has been a common phenomenon.
The challenge ahead
Herein lies the acid test of the Indian Test team under the leadership of the zestful Virat Kohli. The boys carry the dreams of their countrymen who have turned exasperated by the meek submission of the Indian contingent in Tokyo. Cricket as we all know is the biggest religion in the country – it bridges preposterous diversities. And once again our men in whites have a job in hand. Can they brighten up the mood of the disappointed sporting buffs?
Potential in profusion
Yes they can because they have the resources to stay indomitable throughout the series. Sceptics might scowl at this optimism, but a truth is truth.
They may be coming at the back of yet another ICC loss, yet the current Indian side has it in it to make the Englishmen eat a humble pie. In Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, we have a formidable batting line up that can rise to the occasion anyday. Add to the list, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin who can wield the willow with authority. With the inclusion of Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav, the back up is worth a dekko.
It is acceptable that the biggies are short of runs especially Pujara and Rahane both of whom have come under the fire of late, but form is temporary and class is permanent – let’s not deride it. Kohli may not have reached the triple-figure mark for quite a while, but knowing him, he gets the best out of himself when the odds are not in his favour.
If the top four can show consistency, the bowlers will have a ball for sure. In the bowling department, seamers of the likes of Mohd. Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohd. Siraj and of course, the experienced Umesh Yadav can run through any batting rank on their day. Shardul Thakur is handy with the bat and the ball. The conditions in England will favour them and both with pace and movement, they can rattle the English batters.
Ashwin and Jadeja may not be prolific turners of the red cherry but once the Sun shines and the wicket gets drier, they can be lethal. Axar Patel may not be a bad choice if the big two do not deliver.
Pressure — Blessing in disguise
Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar is of the view that India stand great chance of rewriting history this time. So are we, but taking the field in the background of inclement conditions is a tough ask and the pressure to remove the scar of not winning a Test series in England after 2007 might take a toll, yet class guides one to emerge victorious under inimical circumstances and these players can prove their detractors wrong. We have done it Down Under twice and we can repeat it in England too.
Not to take the opponents lightly
Yes England would miss Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes but to run high on overconfidence over a depleted side could boomerang and Kohli certainly knows it. England would enjoy the home conditions and with some world class performers in their ranks, it won’t be a cakewalk for India. Kohli too will be bent on bettering his record as captain outside the sub-continent and with questions raised against his leadership skills, he needs to pull up his socks too.
Go for it boys!
Olympics may have witnessed a dismal run but a resounding victory over England will turn the tide and give us a lot to rejoice for. The road ahead may not be smooth but nothing is impossible if the intent is right. We repose our faith in you guys, that’s a given.
Predicted XI for the first Test
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), R Ashwin, Mohd. Sami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Siraj and Umesh Yadav/ Ishant Sharma
Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed/ Dominic Sibley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (C), Jos Buttler (WK), Daniel Lawrence, Ollie Robinson/Sam Curran, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson and Jack Leach.