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Mental strength will determine England’s survival

india Updated: Nov 13, 2012 00:03 IST
Sourav Ganguly

After the away tour of Australia, there hasn't been quality Test cricket for India and the eight Tests between India-England-Australia will provide four months of terrific cricket.

India will be happy they are playing at home, where they are always tough to beat. The strongest Test team to arrive on Indian soil was the Aussies in 2001. The South Africans, in the later part of 2007, 2008 and 2009, were a strong unit but didn’t have the flair and spark of Steve Waugh's men.

If I analyse the English and Aussie sides for the next eight Tests, I have no hesitation in saying that England look stronger than the Australia side due to visit in February.

Up for the challenge
They are under a new captain in Alistair Cook and he wants to make a change in England's performance in the sub-continent. It's his first Test series as captain and his excitement is understandable. Cook knows he will be tested strongly by this India side and it's not bad for a young captain to start off against a strong opposition.
England have left no stone unturned in preparing for the series and of all the touring teams coming here, if warm-up games are a yardstick for preparation, they have put in the yards already.

It's important for the batting unit to get used to the conditions more than the bowlers so that the lack of bowling in the middle will not hurt them. The English batters have been amongst runs and that is important.

The biggest challenge for England will be their focus and mental commitment for the series. It's a long tour, considering that they came here before time for three warm-up games. So the question is whether England can survive four Tests mentally.
The biggest thing that Waugh's team did in India was they accepted Indian conditions and enjoyed the country, and England will have to emulate that.
The good thing for India is that most players have played a four-day game before getting into the Test series, which will get their mind tuned to the slower format.

A lot of eyes will be on Sachin Tendulkar, who looks focussed, and as it has been in the past, come a big series the big player will stand up.

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The writer is a former India captain