Opener Rory Burns has singled out Indian conditions and Jasprit Bumrah as big threats for England ahead of the first Test in Chennai, starting February 5.
The left-handed Burns, who returns to the squad after missing England’s successful tour to Sri Lanka due to the birth of his first child, highlighted Bumrah’s “unique” prowess with the ball as a threat for the visitor while commenting that “he’s (Bumrah) a hard man to prepare for”.
The 30-year-old added that England would try to prepare for Bumrah’s strengths in particular as the Indian pace spearhead prepares for his first Test series at home. “We will work on those (Bumrah’s bowling) angles and try to work on what he does with the seam and swing and replicate that (in practice).”
Burns also said that India will present a stiff challenge after the recently concluded Australia series. "I saw the recent series between India and Australia and they are in a pretty handy form, not necessarily their first playing XI at different points, but still, they managed to get over the line, it is just going to be a big challenge in their own conditions," he said.
Burns, alongside Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, will be the first to return to training as the trio missed the Sri Lanka series. “I’m hungry to get going and can’t wait to get back to have some pretty tasty net sessions," Burns said.
The southpaw will be a firm favourite to return to the opener’s slot after the pair of Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley struggled in Sri Lanka with partnerships of 10, 3, 4 and 17 from the two Tests.
England’s openers have managed a lone 100-run partnership since the start of 2018 at an average of 29.41, ranking them sixth in the world. When asked whether the role of modern-day Test openers has taken a shift, Burns added: “It is certainly getting more difficult with sides around the world exploiting their (home) conditions, like in Sri Lanka it spun from ball one. The role of a Test match opener might be changing to how deep you can get so that your middle-order can cash in.”
Burns, who last featured for England in August 2020, also lauded skipper Joe Root’s excellent batsmanship and leadership under tough conditions in Sri Lanka. "Root obviously leads from the front. It was incredible to see him go about his business (in Sri Lanka). He is a leader by example, in terms of how he captains the team, he is an easy bloke to follow," said Burns.
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