By Syed Khalid Mahmood
The two-Test series between India and England, whose fate was hanging in balance following the mayhem in Mumbai, is all set to get underway on its original date of December 11 with the England squad finally having set their feet in India after having practice sessions in Abu Dhabi.
The resumption of international cricket in India augurs well for the immediate future of the game with so many events lined up. Hopefully the Indians will also cross the border next month for the much-awaited tour of Pakistan.
The Indians, under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, have hit a purple patch during the ongoing season, having routed Australia 2-0 in the four-Test series to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy before whitewashing England 5-0 in the shortened series of the One-day Internationals. India were on course of a 7-0 win and it was only the abandonment of the last two ODIs that prevented them from doing it.
England appeared to have run out of ideas in the ODI series. Even their dynamic skipper Kevin Pietersen was unable to control the damage. He should not be blamed either because he clearly lacked the resources to contain the home side in the kind of form they were in. Hardly has India ever played such brilliant cricket in the past.
England would be committing a mistake if they consider India a less potent force in Test matches. The momentum at the moment is with India and it’s extremely unlikely that they could be contained with the kind of arsenal England possess at the moment.
The approach of the current Indian team looks so refreshing. With the leadership having been passed over to Dhoni in all forms of the game, their supporters can expect more fireworks from the team in the upcoming two Tests.
It would come as a big surprise if India won’t win both the matches against England. The Australians, being the number one team of the world for so long, had the guns to save two of the four Tests but this England side has to play much above its potential to cause an upset.
The kind of combination India have developed of late it has become a very tall order for any of their opponents to contain them. The intensity of this present team hardly drops and their body language remains so positive even when things are not going their way. Unlike the past they are not in the habit of losing their focus, allowing them to stage a comeback successfully after a lean spell or a barren session.
The venue of both the Test matches has been changed due to security reasons. But that shouldn’t deter the home side from extending their glorious run. They have the capacity to overwhelm England on all kind of pitches in any corner of the world, let alone doing it on their own grounds.
The Indians will be playing their first series after the retirement of Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble that provides them the opportunity of inducting a couple of exceptionally talented youngsters without losing any of their brute force.
December 10, 2008