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India vs England: Virat Kohli versus James Anderson top pick among other key battles at Edgbaston

India look to start the Test series in style as they take on England in the first game in Edgbaston on Wednesday. Hindustan Times Cricket brings to you five key player battles to look out for in this match.

cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2018 09:23 IST
Arnab Sen
Arnab Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India vs England,India vs England key battles,Virat Kohli
The rivalry between Virat Kohli and James Anderson has added more flavour to the Test series between India and England.(BCCI)

The first Test between India and England, which begins on Wednesday, has the potential to become a battle royale with several small battles to be played out within the big war. (LIVE STREAMING)

Both teams have talented individuals who will be eyeing to get one better over their adversaries.

What makes this contest exciting are the duels that some of these players are going to have among themselves.

Both teams have experienced campaigners who have played against each other and that will lead to some rivalries getting re-ignited. Hindustan Times Cricket brings to you five key player battles to look out for in this match

Virat Kohli vs James Anderson

This is one rivalry which everyone will have their eyes on. James Anderson is England’s most successful Test bowler ever and he has previously had the number of India’s top batsman Virat Kohli. Anderson in fact tormented Kohli during the latter’s maiden England Test tour in 2014, dismissing him four times throughout the tour. Kohli though is a much improved batsman since then, having fixed his vulnerability outside the off-stump.

The Indian captain has gone from strength to strength ever since taking over the reins of the team and has scored runs all over the globe across all formats. England is his final frontier of sorts and if he can negotiate Anderson, then Kohli could well realise his dream of leading India to a series win in England

Cheteshwar Pujara vs Stuart Broad

Cheteshwar Pujara’s record in England is as poor as that of his captain. The India number 3 in fact hasn’t fired outside the sub-continent and with poor returns from the tour of South Africa earlier this year, this could well be his last chance to prove his critics wrong. Pujara’s ability to grind the opposition bowlers down has often helped other batsmen to get important runs for the team and that will be needed this time if India wish to do well. He will face a stiff Test from the England seamers who will look to trouble him with pace, bounce and swing.

Cheteshwar Pujara in action during the 2014 Test series against England. ( Getty Images )

Pujara has enough experience of playing in England, but his county stints have been a mixed bag. Stuart Broad, England’s most potent weapon after Anderson, will look to topple Pujara early in the innings with his ability to swing the ball away from the right handed batsman, and had dismissed him thrice on the last tour. If Pujara can get his feet moving early and not get himself in a hole with his defensive tactics, he could well be the fulcrum on whom India could build big totals.

Ajinkya Rahane vs Adil Rashid

Ajinkya Rahane is on a mission to rediscover himself, having lost form, and at one point his place in the playing XI, over the past year and a half in Test cricket. Rahane is the glue that binds India’s middle-order together but his loss of form has been a setback for the team. More disturbing has been Rahane’s performance against slower bowlers. Adil Rashid is one bowler who troubled Rahane during England’s tour of India in 2016 and even dismissed him once.

READ | Ajinkya Rahane puts mindset over skill to triumph in England Tests

The conditions may not be as dry and helpful as they were in India but a hot summer has ensured spinners will get some bite from the pitches. Rashid has been recalled to the Test squad despite him giving up playing first-class cricket and if he can get the better of the Indian middle-order, including Rahane, then he will do justice to the faith shown in his abilities by the selectors.

Alastair Cook vs Ishant Sharma

Alastair Cook and Ishant Sharma are the two most experienced players in their respective teams. While Cook holds the record for the most runs scored by an Englishman in Test cricket, Ishant Sharma has been more of a buffer bowler for India over the years.

Indian bowler Ishant Sharma bowls during the second day of one-off Test against Afghanistan. ( AFP )

Sharma though has produced several match winning spells in his career and the one that comes first to mind is his 7-wicket haul in Lord’s which helped India win their only Test of the 2014 tour. In the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, the onus will be on Ishant to produce the goods for the team. Over the years he has dismissed Cook on 8 occasions and pretty much had his number in the 2011 tour, dismissing the England opener four times.

Joe Root vs R Ashwin

The England captain roared back to form in the limited overs series against India with back to back centuries, which helped the hosts pocket the series. The onus is now on him to lead his team from the front in the Test series. Root though has struggled to convert good starts into big scores ever since taking over as captain, often falling after reaching his half-century.

One bowler who can plot dismissals of well set batsmen in Ravichandran Ashwin and if the Indian offie plays the first Test, this will be the battle to look out for after Anderson and Kohli’s duel. Ashwin dismissed Root twice during England’s trip to India in 2016 and if he could do something similar away from home, then Virat Kohli will have a lot to thank him for.

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 09:59 IST