Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Shooting For The Top

England’s 1-0 series win last month saw them consolidate their 3rd place in the Test rankings.  Starting on Thursday England will be up against the current top dogs in Test cricket.  India, for their faults, have a formidable batting line up, and will be the most formidable line up England have faced on home soil since the 2001 Ashes series.

31 July 2007: Dravid & Ganguly celebrate winning the 2nd Test at Trent Bridge
While India will be without the force of nature that is Virender Sehwag (missing untill possibly the third test), the Indian batting line up will still only consist of honorary Scotsman Rahul Dravid (12,314 test runs at an average of 52.40), Sachin Tendulkar (14,692 runs @ 56.94) and VVS Laxman (8,146 runs @ 47.36).  Tendulkar holds the record for most career Test runs, while Dravid needs 49 runs to move into second place (Laxman sits at 19 in the all time list, between Geoffrey Boycott & David Gower).  Oh and for all three, this may well be their last hurrah on English soil, a last chance then for the threesome to get themselves on the Lords Honours board.

Unlike Sri Lanka, India do have pace bowlers who have experience of English conditions.  Zaheer Khan & Sreesanth both played 4 years ago, when India’s win at Trent Bridge (above) was enough to win them the series (Khan took 4/59 and 5/75 in that victory).  Providing the spin options for India will be Harbhajan Singh, the right handed off-spinner who has taken 404 test wickets (just outside the top 10 on the all time list of test bowlers).  With all of that talent, India really should be comfortably wearing the mantle taken from Australia in the winter of 2008.

Yet India are still vulnerable away from home.  Their series win in the West Indies was not as dominant as you would expect.  Perhaps their eye has been on this tour and this test series.  England though are at the heels of India.

A series win for England will see them overtake South Africa as number 2 in the world, however a series win by two clear tests will see England dethrone India and see them occupy a position they have not been in since 1959, the best Test team in the world.  With the number 1 position to play for, and on the occasion of the 2000th Test match, this test series looks like being the most eagerly awaited test series since last winter’s Ashes series.

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