The test series had a build up like Oscar awards function with talks from stars to streets. The first of four test series between world no. 1 India and no. 2 England starts tomorrow 21st of July at Lord’s, the Mecca of Cricket. Match starts at 11.00 AM local time and 3.30 PM IST time, will be live telecasted by star sports in India.
Last time these two met each other in England in test series is 2007 where India registered a historic 1-0 series win on the back of one of the greatest escape in 1st test at Lords, the same venue for this series starter too. This series had seen plenty of hypes already echoed with controversy of DRS.
Each and every way, stats reckons India can only have a dream to win a match at Lords as they last won here is way back 25 years ago but England have not lost a match here in their last 11 matches with 4 wins and 7 draws since 2005 Ashes loss. Even with 99 centuries under his belt, Sachin has yet to score a hundred at Lords with a best score being 37 at an average of 21.28 in his 7 innings. No player in the current Indian squad has scored a hundred with Dravid having the highest score of 95, came in his debut match 15 years ago. In contrast, England players have piled runs with even Broad having century to his name at Lords. All the top 5 England batsmen averaged over 50 with Trott at 126.50 and scored over 500 runs with Strauss at 1364.As for bowling is concerned in current players, there is no surprise India’s best bowler Zaheer has taken more wickets (9) at Lords but with an average of over 30 and at a strike rate of above 60 is concern for India. Rather surprisingly, it was RP Singh who India will be missing in Lords. He has the best strike rate per wicket for an Indian ever and has the second best match figures of 7/117 in the only match he played at Lords on the 2007 tour. For India, danger is written in the name of swing and spin at Lords. Anderson has taken 36 wickets averaging 28.19 but at a strike rate of 57. In an astonishing way, Swann has an amazing record for a spinner at Lords taking 22 wickets at an average of just 20 and even more impressive strike rate of just 42. On other hand, it is an indication of how the lord’s wicket has behaved in last few years which will encourage the Indians and their spinners mainly Harbhajan Singh who will be making his debut at Lords tomorrow.
India’s shaky record:
Above all this, there is another strong reason for all Indian fans need to worry. In last 20 years, India won only four of their first match of the series outside Home and only twice outside sub-continent (against NZ in 2008/09 and ZIM in 2005). If you include at Home also, margin will go higher by not more than 10.
Lord’s test will see lots of debutants surely with Morgan from English side and Gambhir, Raina, Mukund, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan (shocked? me too at first!) from India side. There is also chance for Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and Yuvraj Singh (if India decides to open with Dravid).
Watch out for:
Sachin Tendulkar – Most probably (read it again, probably only) this will be the last time the Master Blaster playing at the home of cricket. By scoring a century, he not only reaches 100th international century but also get his name on the board that includes lot of greats.
Graeme Swann – Even the best of best like Warne and Muralitharan has their poor record against India. Being the ICC No.1 bowler and also the best spinner at the moment in the world, he will be roaring to test him against fiery Indian batting line-up that will be missing Sehwag surely.
Team XI (likely):
England: Andrew Strauss(capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott , Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior(wk), James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett
India: MS Dhoni(capt/wk), Gautam Gambhir, Abhinav Mukund, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra/Praveen Kumar
If Dhoni opts for Dravid to open, it will be bold move. The move not only allows Yuvraj to play, it is backed up by a history that not many would have forget that empathetic 3rd test win on 2001-02 series where Dravid opened for first time in his career. Can Dhoni do Dada? May be such brave moves needed for a miracle win at Lords.
Final word: If England doesn’t win this match, they better shut their dream of becoming No. 1 for few more years.