A crucial challenge will be on the cards for both the sides. India captain Virat Kohli has exuded confidence of good performance ahead of the test. England will want to give a better account of themselves after recent disappointments.
India and England have battled each other on 17 occasions across the United Kingdom but the unfortunately for the visitors, victory has been hard to come by with only three Test series’ wins since their first tour in 1932.
Virat Kohli and his men will walk into Edgbaston on Wednesday knowing they have the opportunity — and the challenge — of a lifetime. Over the next six weeks, they will pursue that rare commodity in Indian cricket: a Test series win away from home against a top opposition.
No series wins in Australia or South Africa; three in England, the last 11 years ago, when Kohli was still a teenager. So India heads into these five Test matches against England with a shot at history, a chance to bury the ghosts of past failures, and the possibility of an epoch-defining triumph.
Too often, on pitches with bounce, pace or spice, India has been let down, either by bowling or flawed batting or dire catching or a combination of all three. On the last two Test tours of England — 2011 and 2014 — James Anderson and Stuart Broad laid bare India’s weakness against the moving ball, mopping up between them 90 wickets from nine games. But Anderson is 36 now and Broad 32 and there has been talk in the England camp of rotating the two through this series; five Test matches compressed into 42 days is no laughing matter. This tour has since been projected as a sort of personal revenge mission for Kohli. Since that doomed 2014 campaign, Kohli has averaged near 65 and scored 15 Test hundreds, including ones in Australia and South Africa. Only England remains to be conquered, the one missing piece, the one question mark. His individual success will not guarantee an Indian victory, but his failure will in all likelihood lead to an Indian defeat.
Shikhar Dhawan’s and Cheteshwar Pujara’s poor outing with the bat in the practice match against Essex is not a good sign for visitors. Though the performances of skipper Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik and KL Rahul who scored 68, 82 and 58 respectively could be a sign of relief for them. With the ball, India will miss the services of their two first-choice seam bowlers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. In their absence, the Indian bowling attack will rely heavily on Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin. Kuldeep Yadav, who tormented the English lineup in the shortest format is expected to trouble the English batsmen in tests as well.
Interestingly, England are on the verge of becoming the first international Test team to play 1000 Tests. England have not been doing too well in red-ball cricket of late, and they won just one of their past nine test matches. But the fact that they haven’t lost any home series in this format since July 2014 can’t be denied.
With the bat, Alastair Cook is the leading run-getter for England in tests and he has also scored the most runs at Edgbaston in this format. Joe Root seems to have picked up form ahead of the series with back-to-back hundreds in the last two ODIs while Jos Buttler is someone who has been in phenomenal white-ball form with 8 half centuries in just 20 games, and both batsmen could really make the Indian bowlers toil hard in the field.
With the ball, James Anderson is the leading test wicket-taker for the side and he has also taken 40 test wickets in nine test matches for his side at Edgbaston, while his bowling partner Stuart Broad will be the skipper’s next best bet to rattle India’s top-order.