India vs England: Ramprakash calls Virat Kohli and Co. 'favourite' after Australia glory

Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash feels India will not find it too difficult to tackle Jack Leach and Dom Bess who put up a good show in Sri Lanka recently.

England cricketers Ben Stokes and Joe Root at a training session.   -  FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS

The last time England toured India in 2016, it suffered a 0-4 defeat in the five-match Test series. And back then, Mark Ramprakash - who was the batting coach - witnessed how Indian batsmen went on a rampage.

As England gears up for yet another challenging Test series against India, the team is high on confidence following its 2-0 win against Sri Lanka. While the quicks played their role to perfection, it was the spin duo of Jack Leach and Dom Bess who rattled the young Lankan side.

But Ramprakash believes that India won’t lose its sleep over the England spin attack. “When we played India last time, we were happy to bowl India out once, let alone twice. I remember big hundreds by Indian batsmen throughout the series, and also the triple hundred by a player (Karun Nair) in Chennai, who is not in the team anymore. The wickets were good, as a result England found it challenging bowling to the good batsmen.

“There was no lateral movement for fast bowlers, and the spinners weren’t able to be accurate for long enough,” Ramprakash told Sportstar.

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“While England made decent scores in the first innings, penetration with the ball was a problem. The same thing will apply this time. Bess and Leach are dedicated and professional players who are going to come out and try their best. Of course, it remains to be seen if Moeen Ali plays. He is certainly an option, he had some success against India.”

But then, it won’t be easy to trick the Indian batsmen in their backyard.

“It’s going to be very tricky for them to keep the run-rate under control and also pick up wickets in a part of the world where spinners are expected to be the main threat. In Australia, there was Nathan Lyon, who is much more experienced than Bess and Moeen, but even he found it difficult. I don’t think Indian batsmen will lose any sleep over Leach or Bess,” Ramprakash said.

Mark Ramprakash.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES


India favourite

The historic series win against Australia has given India a huge boost and Ramprakash admits that at home, Virat Kohli’s men will start as favourite. “India enters the series as the overwhelming favourite. However, England will not mind that. They will be enjoying being the underdog. That’s quite a nice place for them to be in, coming into the four-match Test series,” he said.

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“If one of the Indian players score a double hundred in the first Test and then 180-odd in the second Test, then it can mask some of the fragilities that might be there. Another thing I find perplexing is that (Jonny) Bairstow and (Jos) Buttler won’t be playing (Bairstow will be available from the third Test, while Buttler will head home after the first Test and will return for the limited-overs series). From England’s point of view, I do get the reason that they have to rest and rotate players, but for a Test series against the No.1 side in the world, you would surely like to pick your best team,” the seasoned coach said.

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Pace test

Ramprakash believes that the England pacers will be tested in the “fantastic series”.

“When we played in Mohali in the last tour, (Mohammed) Shami and Umesh (Yadav) bowled very well on a pretty flat surface. They were bowling short, sharp spells and came back and reverse swung the ball, with good field setting. This time, England can call upon (Jofra) Archer and (Mark) Wood with a bit more of a cutting edge on those flattish surfaces. They will of course try to utilise the pace. Also with Ben Stokes, they will be hoping to trouble the Indian batsmen. Pace is going to play a part,” Ramprakash said.

The former cricketer also feels that with advanced fast bowling programmes and laying out newer pitches, India has worked tremendously to develop a fast bowling culture and it’s reaping the benefits with the rise of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj and T. Natarajan.

“Sri Lanka was so reliant on its spinners, they had one trick. And once Joe Root had conquered that, that was it. In India, it’s going to be very different. There’s going to be really good cricket. As a batsman, if you make runs against a varied attack, then you have really played well,” Ramprakash said.

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