Time: August 4, 3:30 PM IST
Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham
The pictures of the Trent Bridge have been doing rounds on social media, and the grass on it is vividly visible even from a distance. If India dished out spin-friendly pitches in the home Tests earlier this year, England won’t leave any stone unturned to place a thick film of grass for their pacers.
The weather looks good only for the first day. The remaining four days will see the rain interrupt the game.
Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break to prioritise his mental health and Jofra Archer is likely to miss the entire series due to an injury.
Probable XI for England: Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jack Leach
Shubman Gill was ruled out of the series last month due to an injury, Mayank Agarwal has been rested for the first Test due to the concussion he suffered in a net session, and Prithvi Shaw won’t be available until the third Test. India have two options to partner with Rohit Sharma: KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari.
Probable XI for India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul/Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, R Jadeja/Mohammad Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah/Mohammad Siraj
We have opted for a fantasy cricket team based on the recent performances, overall impact, and credit points.
Players to watch out for
Virat Kohli was the highest run-scorer in the England tour of 2018. His 593 runs came at an astounding average of 59, including 2 centuries and 3 fifties – the same Kohli who had managed a mere 134 runs at 13.4 in 10 innings in 2014.
At home, Joe Root likes feeding on Indian bowlers: he has scored 837 runs at 59.7. His top scores are 154*, 149, and 125. James Anderson falls in the same category: he has sniped up 87 wickets in a meagre 17 Tests against India at home.
Sam Curran was the Player of the Series in 2018 for his 272 runs and 11 wickets in 4 Tests.
Ravichandran Ashwin needs 5 wickets to go past Harbhajan Singh’s tally of 417 wickets and become the third-most wicket-taker for India in the format. If he manages 22 wickets on the tour, he will dethrone the great Kapil Dev from the second position. He took 11 wickets on the previous tour in 4 Tests.
Ishant Sharma is tied with Kapil Dev for most wickets by an Indian bowler against England in their own den. They both have taken 43 wickets: while Kapil managed it in 13 Tests, Ishant has taken a match fewer.
While India have been rocked by injuries, England will be without their game-changers Stokes and Archer. England do have the home advantage and that they boast of the legendary duo of Anderson and Broad, but India’s pace attack is no less. Ishant has already proven his mettle in England, Bumrah averages 23 in 20 Tests, Shami can swing the ball both ways, and Siraj has a mighty accuracy. Add Ashwin’s progress as an overseas bowler of late to the mix.
Playing the longest format in England tests the batters’ skills and grit. The bowler will get something on offer, but the real test will be for the batters.
It’s a no-brainer that the team that bats better wins the series.