Kolkata: It will be advantage India in the forthcoming Test series against England which begins in Chennai on Friday, according to Krishnamachari Srikkanth, former India captain and a member of India’s 1983 World Cup winning squad.
Talk about cricket in the southern Indian metropolis, and Srikkanth’s name invariably comes up as one of it’s most favourite cricketing icons. For someone who knows the track at the M.A.Chidambaram Stadium like the back of his palm, Srikkanth feels strongly that the first two Test matches in Chennai will help in setting the momentum for the series.
Speaking to Gulf News over phone, the man who has worn many a hat in Indian cricket - including that of a chief selector - said: ‘‘If a third team of India can beat Australia at their backyard, I feel they will go into the series as clear favourites.’’
It has to be the one in 2008 when Sachin (Tendulkar) scored that amazing century and India chased down a massive target of 387 runs. Virender Sehwag (he scored 83) gave us a fiery start on a turning track, which was followed by a fabulous partnership between Sachin (103 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (85)
When pointed out that Joe Root’s England have also come to India on the back of a 2-0 sweep of Sri Lanka, Srikkanth said while any Test series is expected to be ‘competitive,’ it will be extremely difficult for the visitors to overcome the conditions. The last time England played a full Test series in India in 2016, they were wallopped 4-0 while it was Alastair Cook’s men who could last turn the tables on India in 2012 with James Anderson and Stuart Broad at their peak.
A India-England Test series in India always evokes huge appeal and Chennai has been privy to quite a few enthralling encounters. Asked which one would rate as the best in his memory, the plain-speaking stalwart said: ‘‘It has to be the one in 2008 when Sachin (Tendulkar) scored that amazing century and India chased down a massive target of 387 runs. Virender Sehwag (he scored 83) gave us a fiery start on a turning track, which was followed by a fabulous partnership between Sachin (103 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (85). Sachin’s knock also shattered the myth that he could never score on a winning cause,’’
The drift from Chennai, meanwhile, is that it’s going to be a slow turner and the Indian camp may field a three-pronged spin attack with hometown hero Ravi Ashwin, fresh from his exploits from Australia, leading the attack. While the hosts will miss out on Ravindra Jadeja for the first two Tests as he is still recovering from the finger injury sustained in Sydney, Axar Patel is at hand to provide the finger spin options alongwith Washington Sundar and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.
The series assumes huge significance as both teams will expect to clinch their place as the second finalist in the inaugural World Test Championship final in June at Lord’s, where New Zealand await. India top the table followed by New Zealand, Australia and England. The Black Caps reached the final on Tuesday when Australia called off their tour of South Africa over coronavirus concerns.
The England camp are keenly aware of the strength and variety of India’s attack. “The one thing about the Indian bowling attack is that it’s not just about spin,” England’s assistant coach Graham Thorpe said earlier this week.
“Their seam attack is also strong. We can’t be sidetracked completely and focus just on the spin side of things.”
England have also come equipped with their spin options in Jack Leach, Dom Bess and Moeen Ali, who has recovered from the Covid infection that kept him out of the Sri Lanka series.
Root, who hit match-winning scores of 228 and 186 in the first and second Sri Lanka Tests, will complete a century of Tests in the first game.