It is time for India and England to execute the plans on the ground. Such is the data available to international teams these days that there are very few secrets left anymore.
The time to strategise and work out game plans is over. It’s time for India and England to execute the plans on the ground. With specialised batting and bowling coaches, and accomplished video analysts, to help out head coach and captain, teams are never short on ideal preparation. The challenge lies in translating the plans in the middle.
In any game of cricket, it is important to seize the initiative, and it becomes even more crucial in the first game of a series as high profile as this one. In the dressing room, we have discussed the significance of beginning well, be it with bat or ball. A lot of the times, we have tried to win the first session because that in a way sets the tone for the rest of the day, and the first day sets the tone for the rest of the Test.
That's where India are fortunate to have Viru and Gauti opening the batting, and Zak and Umesh operating with the new ball. Viru and Gauti are the best India opening combination, an opinion backed by impressive numbers, and among the top opening combines to have played Test cricket. They are good friends off the pitch, and that is all too obvious when they are batting in the middle.
Both are capable of putting the bad and good deliveries away but importantly, they also share an excellent understanding which means that even when the bowlers are giving nothing away, they can play the tip-and-run game to perfection.
I can vouch from experience that for a fielding side, nothing is more frustrating than to concede sharp singles when bowlers are bowling well. When one batsman is a right-hander and the other a left-hander, it throws bowlers off rhythm, constantly demands the fielders to change positions and takes away the 'flow' that fielding sides thrive on.
Viru and Gauti are past masters at running brilliantly between wickets. There are few more exciting sights in international cricket than Viru in full flight. He can annihilate any attack; to sit in the dressing room and watch him take the best apart is quite an experience.
Just like Viru, Zak has established himself as a massive force in international cricket. He is
now quite the complete bowler who knows his body and bowling inside out. He is crafty and dangerous with the new ball, getting it to go both ways, and in Ahmedabad, there will be reverse swing as well for him and Umesh.
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The writer is a former India batsman