The highly anticipated test series pitting two of the top red ball teams in the world is soon to get underway at Birmingham. The visitors head into the series with several questions unanswered post their lackluster performance against Essex in their warm-up fixture. While England will look to replicate their 2014 performance against the Indians where they triumphed 3-1.
Although it is the entire input by the squad that decides the result, on several occasions the fixture gets tilted when a player manages to oust the counterpart. Let’s have a look at 5 such key battles what may decide the fate of the series.
- Kohli vs. Anderson
The Indian skipper had a nightmare tour back in 2014 where he only managed to score 134 runs in 10 innings. Kohli particularly had trouble facing England’s swing master James Anderson. Kohli often succumbed to the seamer’s nagging deliveries outside the off-stump.
While Kohli has managed to put those demons back to sleep with his usual fiery temperament, the cloudy English skies and the red cherry might pose a trouble for Kohli. The Indian captain had a positive outing in the warm-up fixture and would look to bring it to the series.
However, this time, the tables may turn as Anderson, who is in his fag end of his career will face the much improved ViratKohli. Having scored consistently all around the globe with ease, this tour might see Kohli bringing up his A-game against the classy Anderson.
- Buttler vs. Ashwin
Ever since his promotion up the order for the Rajastha Royals in the IPL, Buttler has reached new heights. The wicket-keeper batsman has translated his form in the country colours and has gone on to rack the runs.
Whereas Ashwin, India’s regular in the red ball setup, has had quite the time off with his role in limited overs being diminished. The off-spinner had a good outing for Worcestershire in the county season.
Buttler’s play against spin has significantly improved albeit being dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav twice in the limited overs series. While this is a close call, considering Buttler’s recent form and his midas touch as of late expect him to rise up against Ashwin.
Winner : Jos Buttler
- Cook vs. Shami
The former England skipper is arguably one of the finest test batsman of this generation and Cook always manages to bring up his best game against the Indians, be his highest test score or his performance on his debut at Nagpur’s dust bowl.
Cook promises to be one of India’s biggest challenge in the tour. The opener had a great outing against the India A side. On the other side of the coin lies Mohammed Shami, the pacer has struggled a bit as of late with his off-field controversies and his poor performances with Delhi Daredevils in the IPL.
While Shami is a whole different force with a red ball in his hand, Cook might get the better of him with his usual calm demeanor.
Winner: Alaistar Cook
- Ben Stokes vs. HardikPandya
The battle of the all-rounders sees Ben Stokes up against Hardik Pandya. Stokes, having put the off-field controversies behind his back will look to trouble the Indians with both the bat and ball.
Hardik Pandya has gone from strength to strength to be one of India’s leading all-rounders, a good showing in the whites during the Men In Blue’s tour to South Africa tilts the cards towards the Mumbai Indians all-rounder.
Ben Stokes also had a forgettable IPL and did not create any impact against Pakistan earlier this year. Pandya’s aggression, form and adaptness gives him the advantage over the struggling Stokes.
Winner :Hardik Pandya
- Joe Root vs. Kuldeep Yadav
England’s premier batsman Joe Root has peaked at the right time much to the delight of the English fans. The batsman scored consecutive hundreds in the ODI Series and will be Indian bowling line up’s biggest target.
On the other hand, Kuldeep Yadav has spun his way into England gave the batting unit a very hard time in the limited over series.
But Root being one of the finest batsman in the world, adapted brilliantly to negate Yadav’s variations. With Root’s impeccable form and Yadav’s lack of experience with the first team in the format gives Root the nod.
Winner : Joe Root