close contest

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 30 Jul 2018 15:16:26

FORMER England captain Graham Gooch, a prolific run-getter for England in his heydays, feels that the forthcoming Test series between India and England would be a close contest and sees India under Virat Kohli as the vastly improved, balanced side. Besides, the warmer climatic conditions prevailing in England as of now, would have much impact on the outcome of Tests and also the series. Former Australian bowling legend Glenn McGrath feels that while the Indian pace bowlers are in a position to deliver results for their side, it would be crucial for the spinners to fire. He says that his countrymate Shane Warne would say that if the ball seams, it should also spin. And here comes the role of Indian spinners. That is precisely why England too seem to have chosen leg-spinner Adil Rashid on the basis of his performance against India in the just concluded limited overs series, unmindful of the hot debate that the move has generated in the cricketing circles of England. 

Notwithstanding these positive views from former cricketing greats, the one-off practice match against county side Essex proved to be a lackluster outing for the Indian top order batting with Shikhar Dhawan collecting a pair and Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane failing to find any answer to the county side’s pace attack. That must have left a question mark on the minds of team management and the captain himself. If these three fail to fire, then the burden will naturally pass on to the captain. The bowlers, both the spinners and the pacers, too could not make much impact. However, Umesh Yadav showed that he was ready for the forthcoming challenge.

The failure of Dhawan, Rahane and Pujara to spend some quality time at the crease must have disappointed Virat Kohli and could pose selection problems for the first Test beginning August1. However, Captain Virat Kohli himself appears to be in a positive frame of mind. He has to prove a point. He has to wipe out bad memories of his last visit to England. And Graham Gooch warns that Kohli’s extra motivation could be dangerous for the hosts. Because, according to him, like English captain Joe Root, Kohli too is a match-winner. The teams can depend upon them to produce results. They are players to be watched, irrespective of how much time they spend on the wicket or how many runs they collect. What matters is their intense competitive spirit, which elevates the game to a higher level.

So, cricket fans can look forward to a keen contest between Virat Kohli and Joe Root in the long-drawn Test series and with Indian spinners, on the one hand, and seasoned English pacer James Anderson, on the other, vying for honours and likely making impact on the Test series.