Whenever England and India meet on the cricket pitch, it is a mega event for both sets of fans. The Indian supporters are known to be extremely vocal and they turn up in high numbers. On the other hand, the Englishmen are equally passionate about the game and try to unsettle any visiting teams. Hence, this is likely to be a very exiciting series with two very evenly matched teams going head to head. It is slated to be a long and testing tour for the Indians, who have a point to prove on English pitches – especially in Test Matches. So let’s have a look at the three reasons why the tour is likely to be a hard fought one.
1) Even Footing
Both the teams are on an even footing when it comes to form and preparation. England has just hammered the Aussies in ODIs and T20s and therefore they’re in excellent form. On the other hand, India warmed up nicely by thrashing Ireland in their T20 series. The Indians have also been playing the IPL which has helped them in maintaining high fitness levels. In the shortest format of the game, the strength of the IPL gives India a distinct advantage. But the test matches will be a totally different story. England are favourites for the tests simply because of home conditions. Although India are expected to compete much better than the last time around, but in swinging conditions England will thrive. But overall it will be a rather close affair.
2) Crowd Influence
Everyone knows that whenever India come around, they bring with them huge crowd support and fanfare. No matter which country they are playing in (Except Pakistan perhaps!), you are always likely to see massive support. This tour is going to be no different. Expect a partisan Indian crowd in England, at least in the shorter formats of the game. However, the English crowd are known to be lovers of test cricket and they will outnumber the Indians in this format. This leaves us well balanced even in terms of crowd support. Another factor which could even things out is the weather. If the true English weather turns up, it will ensure that things remain even (Drawn matches!).
3) Strength In Depth
Both teams have built a great bench over the last two years. If we look at England, bowlers like Mark Wood, Tom Curran and Chris Woakes do not play each game and yet they have accumulated a lot of international experience. It is a similar story for India where they have good backup bowlers – the likes of Umesh Yadav and Sidharth Kaul. Even in the spin department, the emergence of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav has put superstars like Ravindra Jadeja in the back seat. In terms of batting, India look a little bit better than England due to the latter’s fragile upper and middle order. Dawid Malan and Mark Stoneman are yet to convince the fans that they’re the real deal in terms of international cricket. This tour might just prove a point one way or the other!
To sum up, this tour is likely to be one of the best sporting events of the year, simply based on past history and present rivalry. England will surely be favourites in the Tests while India are looking stronger in the T20s. The ODIs might just turn out to be the key here. With a vastly improved English ODI team, I’m tipping them to win the series on home turf. But India will surely remain competitive and will learn more about the conditions heading into the biggest event in the game – the 2019 Cricket World Cup.