Right now, the cricket world is concerned with the Champions’ League and whether or not Stuart Broad really would deign to drink one single beer with Kevin Pietersen, so we thought we’d move ahead to something that actually interests us. We thought we might do some half-arsed previews ahead of the Test series between India and England.
It’s a series to look forward to, even if at least one cricket writer has already suggested that it represents a good opportunity to play some batsman or other before the Ashes WHICH MISSES THE WHOLE POINT OF CRICKET.
England touring India is not a Farokh-ing warm-up. It is cricket at its best: seeing players facing unfamiliar conditions and scenarios and either adapting or being torn apart like a warm bread roll.
Recent Tests at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad
The first Test will take place in Ahmedabad. What’s the ground like and is there any way England could secure a win?
Well, bizarrely, India haven’t actually won a Test in Ahmedabad since 2005 when Harbhajan Singh minced Sri Lanka. Since then, they’ve lost by an innings against South Africa and drawn against Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
The South Africa match was something of an oddity. It was played in April and it had been so hot that the groundsman left grass on the pitch because the roots were the only thing keeping the soil from blowing away. Steyn, Ntini and Morkel rather enjoyed this and bowled India out for 76 on the first day, after which the pitch started behaving, allowing the tourists to make 494-7.
England can take no lessons from this. They will not get a green pitch.
So what happened in the two more recent Tests, both of which were played in November?
In 2009, Sri Lanka responded to India’s 426 with 760-7 before India made 412-4. In 2010, India and New Zealand both made 400-and-odd before Chris Martin reduced the home team to 65-6. India then recovered via VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh, who somewhat unexpectedly made a hundred.
It’s interesting that it was Martin who caused problems. We’ve said before that only the home team wins Tests in India via spin. You need spinners, yes, but don’t bank on them being match-winners.
For example, in the high-scoring draw involving Sri Lanka, the only bowler to return half-decent figures in any innings was Chanaka Welegedara, a fast-medium bowler. He and Dhammika Prasad reduced India to 32-4 after eight overs on the first morning.
Our prediction is that spinners will keep things ticking over, but that quicker bowlers represent the best chance of a win for England. Helpful conditions at any stage and they have a chance, but if there’s minimal assistance then they will certainly crack before India.