INDIA VS ENGLAND TEST SERIES – A PREVIEW
What if Virat Kohli didn’t score a meagre 134 runs in 10 innings in the ill-fated 2014 English Summer. What if Adil Rashid didn’t bamboozle Virat Kohli in the third ODI in Headingley to evoke a reaction of utter disbelief from the hottest property in the world cricket. What if there was no heatwave this time around.
The Pandora’s box has been opened with a list of other brain-tickling, need-of-the-hour questions. The questions might be answered or might be left for another day, another year or another tour. For now, almost 2 weeks after the English triumphed in the one dayers, the focus, needless to say, is all on test series. Or so to say, on three entities which have been gaining a lot of momentum due to reasons, physical, mental and geographical.
Virat Kohli has been taking down opponents one at a time. His first Australian tour was a disaster of sorts except for the last match where he scored a nitty gritty century where both tongues and Kookaburra ball lashed his bat. He has come out on top, every time he has endured a rough patch (which is not much to be honest). It is always said that Virat Kohli is immune of terms like ‘lean patch, bad form, inconsistency’. When was the last time you saw Virat Kohli and the above terms being used in the same line or in the same paragraph or in the same article, Never ever. Okay maybe very few.
This is going to yet another series centered on the talisman. Much like every series, test and ODI alike that has been played in the last 3 years. Especially after he took over the reins of test captaincy, he has constantly been under immense pressure to perform every minute of his life. This is associated with everyone who has donned the Indian cap but what the Indian captain has been subjected to, in recent time, has been immense. Every time, though, he has come out on top. The series in Australia where he floored the Australian bowling attack. The recent series in South Africa where he emerged the highest run getter. This time, though, the challenges will be two fold. He has a much more experienced squad at disposal and expectations are rather high. So Kohli will have to lead and look to it that the pack is well in the game too.
With the advent of franchise leagues, “white-ball only” deals were shaping up across the cricketing world and Adil Rashid was one of the first to join the bandwagon. He signed up a ‘white ball only’ deal with Yorkshire for 2018. Rashid said that it would be best for him to focus on the shorter formats of the game domestically and internationally. Come the English Summer, Rashid is bowling to Kohli in Headingley in the One Day series in the decider. He pitches it on the middle and leg, nips off the surface and takes off, escapes Kohli’s bat and knocks off the off stumps. Kohli stands in disbelief, disarray and dismay. Dejection all over the Indian dressing room and India eventually lose the match and series. Adil Rashid, in one moment, turned around his career. England selectors, indeed, decided to give a test call up to the leggie. This could be a panic move or an astute technical step. The selectors, definitely did not ask questions like the RandomSportsBlogger. What if the ball turned one inch more, what if the ball turned one inch less, what if India had won the match, what if England had lost the series. For now, Adil Rashid is in the playing XI for the first test and he would certainly like the ball to turn more than he would expect.
Another talking point in the series is, well, the heatwave. The heatwave is said to be the severest since the 70’s and temperatures are soaring across the country. However, the temperature is expected to do little to ingrained qualities of the English pitches. However, if it does behave the sub continental way, India will have the upper hand or at least hope so. If it remains the same, the battle lines are drawn and there is no place for complacency in both the camps.
Root, the English captain, says that he is able to sleep now a days on the previous day of a big match. Kohli, his Indian counterpart, was spotted shopping in the malls of London. The differences are stark but there is one thing in common in both. They want to win and win real bad. Root would have to endure countless sleepless nights if things go wrong at the uncertainly of his future in cricket much like his country’s uncertainty in the geo political scenario. Kohli, too, would go all out on the Poms and just hope it doesn’t backfire. For if it does, he definitely can’t take the leisurely shopping mall visits even in the United(divided) Kingdom.