Ronnie Irani: India has 'very good' chance against England

The former England cricketer also says that the Indian spinners will have a role to play given the prevailing dry weather in England.

Ronnie Irani with Ravi Shastri at the Essex County Club last week.

Last week as India took the field at the Essex County Cricket Club for a three-day tour game, there was one English gentleman who did not miss a single moment of that game. After all, for Ronnie Irani, it was more of an emotional roller-coaster.

Having played for England in three Tests and 31 ODIs, Irani’s ancestors are from India. So, every time there is a clash between the two sides, the former England cricketer finds himself in a tricky situation. “I am a cricketer, I want England to win. But my ancestors are from India, so there’s always a soft spot,” the 46-year-old tells Sportstar.

As Virat Kohli’s men battled it out in the middle against Irani’s county side, Essex, he made it a point to catch up with his old friend and India’s head coach, Ravi Shastri.

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And witnessing the way Kohli prepared his boys for the long Test series against England —beginning on Wednesday — Irani is quite impressed. “When you are so much into T20 or ODI cricket, preparing for Test series is very, very difficult. I witnessed the way Ravi Shastri was preparing the side, and of course, (there was Virat) Kohli. The way they went about their business, I must admit that it has been very impressive,” Irani says.

“I know it is difficult in the longer format, but one thing be sure, Shastri as the coach has given the best possible preparation that these boys could have,” Irani says, referring to longer preparation time that this team has had after the limited-overs series got over.

While time will tell whether these guys will be good enough for the day, Irani admits that with wickets being absolutely dry in England this time around, Indian spinners — R. Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja — certainly have a role to play. “They have a few world class batsmen, some phenomenal spin bowlers. It has been very dry here, so India certainly has got a very good chance,” he says.

Though the onus is on the batsmen, Irani makes it clear that coach Shastri’s cricketing acumen will make the difference for the touring side. “Shastri is an incredible guy. He gives India the best chance. He is the leader in every aspect. He knows how to get the best from the players, so they can just pull this off,” Irani says.

But then, the former England international admits that his team is certainly the favourite. “England is favourite for sure but India has got a very good chance. You have got world-class batsmen. Whatever has happened before will have no relevance here,” Irani says.

Even as Irani is expecting the Indian spinners to fire, will it be really possible for them to make an impact?

The former cricketer says, there is a great possibility. “The Indian spinners will be massive this summer because it has been so dry in England. The conditions are so dry. I would expect pitches to turn,” he says, adding that India must make the most of England’s inability to play spin.

“When it comes to the crunch situation, England has a slight weakness in batting. It loses wickets very, very quickly against spin. They have to make sure that they bowl in the right lines,” Irani, who played international cricket from 1996 to 2003, says, adding: “Kohli and Shastri are clever guys — they are smart people. They are not going to start favourite, but they will definitely give England a tough challenge.”

With another marathon tour beginning, Irani will be happy to see both the sides giving tough competition. After all, home is where the heart is!

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