India's Tour Of England 2011: A Preview - Part I

Zaheer Khan's presence will enhance the Indian bowling greatly.

India travel to England for a four-match Test series from July 21. Who holds the aces, India or England, or will it be a keenly contested series?

India will travel to England to participate in what will be a vital Test series against the hosts. It will be a battle between two of the three best sides in the Test match world on current form (South Africa is the third), making it a delightfully, mouth-watering dish for the cricketing connoisseur.

Under normal circumstances, when one talks about Indian cricket, it is the age-old and solid batting line-up that springs to mind. And it has barely changed from their last trip to England in 2007. Likes of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman will continue to play a potentially sterling role.

On the other hand, England usually look to drill holes in the opposition line-up through the better use of the home conditions – the ball nips around and the pace bowlers get it to do all the talking against teams which aren’t too used to playing in such circumstances.

This time though, it could be a different ball game altogether. The roles may just be reversed. The Indian bowlers, spearheaded by Zaheer Khan, will look to come hard at the English batsmen, who have been in the form of their lives.

India have their best five pace bowlers in a long time and the good news is that all five are fit – Left-armer Zaheer will provide a studying test for the English batsmen, but he will be well-supported by Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and S Sreesanth. In fact, it will only be fair to say that the Indian think-tank will have deciding on their best three bowlers for the first Test match.

Zaheer will be an automatic choice to lead the attack and there is a good chance that Sreesanth will be an automatic exclusion, but the choice for the other two seamers will be a tough one.

Munaf Patel gets it to seam off the wicket at most places and his control is his biggest strength. But he is injury-prone and the Indians may not want to risk him. Praveen Kumar offers the option of the swinging ball and is physically one of the fittest Indian players. But his lack of pace goes against him. And then, there is Ishant Sharma, who was the man of the series in the recently-concluded series against West Indies. Gone were his problems with the no-balls and wherever the pitch afforded, the lanky bowler got the ball to rear up disconcertingly. An in-form Ishant is a must-have in the team and could follow Zaheer for the second bowling spot in the side.

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