Bunsen burners could set series alight

The four Test venues can throw up turners failing which belters on which the batsmen can really feast on runs will be the order of the day. The Englishmen can be certain that they will not see too much of grass on the pitches in India.

The Englishmen led by Alastair Cook will have come to India nurturing the same hope that many of their predecessors have done since 1985 — that of winning a Test series. With Andrew Strauss retiring on the back of a none too happy period on and off the field, the mantle could not have come at a worse time to Alastair Cook. However, Cook needs to look at the Indian tour in a positive manner as he has everything to gain and little to lose.

A loss in India will not viewed with as much acrimony as it is done when England lose to Australia and a win will be seen as an outstanding achievement given that several others before him have gone back empty-handed leaving behind a plethora of excuses. Cook and his boys will be certain of one element being a constant — the nature of the pitches. Dhoni (pic, below) had made it clear that he would prefer to play on turners at home even as India was getting outplayed in Australia early this year. A combination of the diminishing percentage of victories for Dhoni and the inability of the Englishmen to handle spinners on “Bunsen burners” will ensure that Dhoni does not have a rethink on that front. Any repercussion of the pitches being certified below par (if at all) will be handled later, but Dhoni would not give an inch to the Englishmen in terms of using the home advantage to the maximum extent possible.

The English selectors have done the right thing by including Monty Panesar as he can form a potent combination with Graeme Swann. The past records will show that Indians have succumbed to an off-spinner more than they have done to left-arm spinners. With the Indian batting not in the best of form as a unit, Swann and Panesar will fancy their chances of creating history, but the biggest problem for the visitors will be their batting. Even with the likes of Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen in their ranks, they will be tested severely. Besides, “Delhi bellies” affecting key players in the past on tours of India has been quite common which means that the discipline of the Englishmen will be challenged off the field as well. A few of the England players may have become wiser in their choices of Indian cuisine but it remains to be seen if they can overcome the main challenge — that of prevailing over the spinners. The spin duo of Swann and Panesar are way ahead of their counterparts Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in terms of experience and wickets but they need their batsmen to give them enough to bowl at.

The Englishmen have come over early enough and have played warm-up games leading up to the Tests but the difference between the two sides will be the depth and skill sets in the batting department. The four-Test series gives the Englishmen more than a fair chance to make a series out of it and the first Test will provide the opportunity for both the sides to get their noses ahead which is critical. The venues can throw up turners failing which belters on which the batsmen can really feast on runs will be the order of the day. The Englishmen can be certain that they will not see too much of grass on the pitches in India. One can expect the outfields to be lush green considering that it is winter time in India, but apart from that there will be nothing more the visitors can expect in this series. Cook and Co. have to make their luck and in order to do so, they have to bat out of their skins to put the pressure on India. Though the pressure will be on the visitors, Dhoni will feel the heat as well as there can be no let up when Team India plays at home.