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India vs England: Weather promises to spice up James Anderson-Virat Kohli battle

The Edgbaston Test between India and England could turn into a battle of attrition between England pacer James Anderson and India batsmen led by their skipper Virat Kohli.

cricket Updated: Jul 30, 2018 13:25 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Birmingham
Virat Kohli vs James Anderson will be an interesting side battle in the upcoming Test series between India and England.(BCCI)

The view that a harsh summer in England may push seam bowling to secondary status in the Test series against India may be premature after all.

It rained at the weekend and the gloomy weather is expected to extend till Monday. The first Test, which marks England’s 1000th Test, begins on Wednesday.

With the India team management cancelling their first training session at Edgbaston due to rain, the batsmen looking out of their hotel rooms saw a perspective different from what the parched weather had promised over the last two weeks.

England would be buoyed as cloud cover would bring their masters of swing and seam, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, in the frame. Anderson, who turned 36 on Sunday, has had to protect a worn-out shoulder. He will, however, be critical for the hosts keen to avenge their 4-0 series drubbing by India in 2016.

READ | India vs England: Virat Kohli remains main talking point ahead of Test series

Anderson is already an all-time great. His 540 Test scalps place him fifth in the list of Test wicket-takers and he will look to edge closer to the 24 scalps he needs to surpass Aussie great Glenn McGrath and become the most successful Test pace bowler.

In 2016, Anderson, frustrated by the slow pitch conditions in India, said Virat Kohli, who made a record 655 runs at an average of 109.16 in the series, would be exposed in more bowler-friendly conditions.

“I just think any technical deficiencies he’s got aren’t in play out here. We had success against him in England but the pace of the pitches over here just takes any flaws he has out of the equation. There’s not that pace in the wicket to get the nicks, like we did against him in England with a bit more movement. Pitches like this suit him down to the ground. He’s a very good player of spin and if you’re not bang on the money and don’t take your chances, he’ll punish you.”

Take Anderson’s phenomenal record at home, Kohli’s class and add the dank weather, and it all will spice up the series like nothing else.

READ | Virat Kohli would like to prove his best batsman tag in front of British public: Ravi Shastri

Anderson’s record against India at home (12 Tests, 60 wickets at an average of 25.88) and in Edgbaston (9 Tests, 40 wickets @ 21.92) – England have won six of them – is formidable. India have lost five of their six Tests at Birmingham by big margins with one ending in a draw.

Broad has been stingier than Anderson against India at home – 44 wickets in nine Tests at 17.79. Anderson and Broad, 32, have been a deadly combination and the last time India played at Edgbaston, in 2011, the two took six wickets each in the big win.

The India skipper will thus have a point to prove against Anderson, who dismissed him five times in the 2014 series when the batsman averaged 13.4. And while it’s a different Kohli that has landed in England, India will be wary of the other top-order batsmen. In the practice game against Essex, they were tentative when the seamers pitched it up – perfect length to make swing or seam count and the stock delivery in English conditions.

India-England series now is spoken off in the same breath as Ashes for popularity and intensity. A master swing bowler in the twilight of his career and a star batsman in his prime can turn it into a similar classic.

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 08:54 IST