Tough Task for England As They Prepare for Five Test Series with India

There’s been mixed fortunes for England’s cricket teams in recent times. While the One-Day team sits atop of the official World Rankings at the time of writing, the T20 team sit in fourth spot in the world and the test team sit one place lower in fifth.

ICC Test Match Rankings (Men)

  1. India – 125
  2. South Africa – 112
  3. Australia – 106
  4. New Zealand – 102
  5. England – 97
  6. Sri Lanka – 91
  7. Pakistan – 88
  8. Bangladesh – 75
  9. West Indies – 72
  10. Zimbabwe – 2

England have won just two of their last eight test series (both victories coming against South Africa both in England and also on a tour of South Africa) but in that time they have also played out three drawn series and suffered the same number of defeats, two of those heavy 4-0 losses to Australia in the 2017/18 Ashes Series and prior to that a 4-0 thumping by this summer’s opponents, India.

In contrast to England’s inconsistent form in the test arena, India have been a model of consistency and a run of 10 wins in their 11 previous test series (their only defeat coming over the winter in South Africa) have seen them move well clear at the top of the ICC Rankings. With a star-studded squad packed with outstanding talent, they represent a massive test for Joe Root’s team over the five-test series this summer.

India’s Test Results

  • 2015 – Bangladesh v India – Draw 0-0
  • 2015 – India v Sri Lanka – Won 2-1
  • 2015 – India v South Africa – Won 3-0
  • 2016 – West Indies v India – Won 2-0
  • 2016/17 – India v New Zealand – Won 3-0
  • 2016/17 – India v England – Won 4-0
  • 2016/17 – India v Bangladesh – Won 1-0
  • 2016/17 – India v Australia – Won 2-1
  • 2017 – Sri Lanka v India – Won 3-0
  • 2017/18 – India v Sri Lanka – Won 1-0
  • 2017/18 – South Africa v India – Lost 1-2
  • 2018 – India v Afghanistan – Won 1-0

Full Record of Tests Played Since Summer 2015

  • Tests Played – 35
  • Tests Won – 24
  • Tests Drawn – 7
  • Tests Lost – 4
  • Series Won – 10
  • Series Drawn – 1
  • Series Lost – 1

For comparison, over the same time period, here is England’s Test series results and overall record.

  • 2015 – West Indies v England – Drawn 1-1
  • 2015 – England v New Zealand – Drawn 1-1
  • 2015 – England v Australia – Won 3-2
  • 2015/16 – Pakistan v England – Lost 2-0
  • 2015/16 – South Africa v England – Won 2-1
  • 2016 – England v Sri Lanka – Won 2-0
  • 2016 – England v Pakistan – Drawn 2-2
  • 2016/17 – Bangladesh v England – Drawn 1-1
  • 2016/17 – India v England – Lost 4-0
  • 2017 – England v South Africa – Won 3-1
  • 2017 – England v West Indies – Won 2-1
  • 2017/18 – Australia v England – Lost 4-0
  • 2017/18 – New Zealand v England – Lost 1-0
  • 2018 – England v Pakistan – Draw 1-1

Full Record of Tests Played Since Summer 2015

  • Tests Played – 47
  • Tests Won – 18
  • Tests Drawn – 8
  • Tests Lost – 21
  • Series Won – 5
  • Series Drawn – 5
  • Series Lost – 4

As you can see from the comparison of the two teams, England have been the busier of the two teams, playing 12 more test matches over the same time period, but England’s success rate of 18 wins from their 47 tests, is just a 38% win rate. In contrast, India have won 24 of the 35 test matches they have played in this period, for a win rate of 65.5%, which pretty much encapsulates why India are the strongest test team in the world at present.

What is especially eye-catching is that India have amassed that record against all of the top teams (bar Pakistan, who they will not play in a test match for political reasons). They have played, and beaten, all of the sides inside the top nine (bar Pakistan) over that period and in some cases, have done so in comprehensive fashion.

The current Test Series v India

After a month of preparation which has seen both teams clash in three T20 matches initially, then three One-Day International games, the test series begins in earnest in August and continues through until September with five matches played across the country.

  • First Test – Edgbaston, Birmingham – 1st to 5th August
  • Second Test – Lords, London – 9th to 13th August
  • Third Test – Trent Bridge, Nottingham – 18th to 22nd August
  • Fourth Test – Rose Bowl, Southampton – 30th August to 3rd September
  • Fifth Test – The Oval, London – 7th to 11th September

England will certainly be hoping that they can head to the final test at The Oval at least being in with a chance of victory in the series but even that is a tall order against an India side that have steamrollered almost all of their major test series opponents in recent times. For both sides there are a number of key players, the performance of which will likely be a key influence on who comes out on top of the series.

India’s Key Man

Virat Kohli – The captain of the Indian team is regarded as one of the world’s finest batsmen and is the natural successor to Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar. His ability to get runs and bat for long periods to frustrate the England attack will be key to India’s chances of success this summer. He is the only batsman in history to average over 50 in test matches, one day internationals and T20 games simultaneously.

England’s Key Man

Joe Root – The captain needs to galvanise his team and try and achieve some consistency within his team if they are to stand a chance against India. While Root’s batting skills will be vital for England, his leadership will equally be put to the test as he will need his batsmen to play very well, with no collapses that have been a trademark of recent England performances, while his bowlers will need to adapt to what are likely to be fast and firm wickets due to the very warm summer so far in the UK.

Who will win the test series?

While I can see England perhaps sneaking a victory in one of the five tests, I do feel that conditions in the UK have slightly helped India’s chances in recent weeks with the warm, hot weather drying out the pitches a great deal. Allied to India’s natural brilliance, I think this will be a long tough summer series for Joe Root and my tip is for India to win the series 3-1.

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