It's the toughest tour India have undertaken since the start of the new millennium. But if you have the mettle, it may be a good time to walk into this team.
Starting against the best can be a double-edged sword for sure. However, if you prove yourself, it can be an ideal launching pad for your career.
At the moment, no team tests you like England does. They may be ranked No. 5 in ODIs but are playing better than the world champions, India. For Ajinkya Rahane and Varun Aaron, their first series has been a baptism by fire. Rahane has made a very impressive start to his career but by measuring himself against a team like England, he will realise how tough it is to be successful at the highest level.
The home team seem to have an answer for everything India have thrown at them. The debacle in Tests was blamed on poor starts. In the limited-overs series, India can't hide behind that excuse as well. Rahane and Parthiv Patel have not just seen off the new ball, they have provided flying starts. It has helped India raise competitive totals but the result has been the same.
The defeats at Southampton and Old Trafford, after posting 187 in 23 overs and 165 in 20, could have demoralised any team. The third one-dayer at the Oval on Friday will be a test of whether the young Indian team have the mental reserves to take the knocks in their stride.
The importance of seizing the initiative early cannot be lost on India. In the Tests, they surrendered the lead at Lord's and the gap kept widening. They find themselves in the same position now in the ODIs. Their confidence has taken a hit after the England batsmen dominated on Tuesday.
If batting was blamed in the Test series, bowling has let them down in the limited-overs series. The absence of a strike bowler reflects an empty cupboard.
At The Rose Bowl, openers Craig Kieswetter and Alastair Cook raced to a 67-run partnership in 6.2 overs. Thereafter it was a cakewalk. The Indian new ball attack's ability to make early inroads could well decide the outcome on Friday. The bowlers’ poor show has meant no target has looked insurmountable for the England batsmen.
Ravindra Jadeja, who landed after visa issues were sorted, trained on Thursday and is likely to replace Manoj Tiwary as he will solve the fifth bowler issue. He is making a comeback, and will know if he has the game, this series is a perfect platform. Who is doing what?
“Dum hai ki nahin pata chal jata hai (Your mettle is tested). If you do well here, recognition is instant. England is a tough place to play cricket, history is proof that whoever has scored runs here, has gone on to play for long — Dilip Vengsarkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly," said former India player and current manager, Shivlal Yadav. The odds are heavily stacked against India. The onus is on the young brigade.