All eyes on Joe Root and Virat Kohli, planet Earth’s two top batsmen, for what is set to be a truly thrilling series
England v India: First Test, from Wednesday 1 August, 10am, Sky Sports Cricket/HD (CH 514/504)
Cricket has a very narrow window of exclusivity this summer. With the World Cup over and the Premier League juggernaut rolling back into town in a matter of days, cricket must make the most of its moment in the sun. Fortunately, there is much to whet the appetite in this Test series against India, the first of which starts this Wednesday at Edgbaston.
As ever, with cricket, it’s all about the subplots. For England, questions remain about the top order, with Dawid Malan, Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings all failing to nail down their places in the recent series against Pakistan. The intriguing resurgence of Jos Buttler as a Test cricketer looks set to continue in his extraordinarily productive summer. Meanwhile, England’s bowling attack is still too reliant on the old warhorses of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who will be hoping the unseasonably warm summer has produced some fast, hard surfaces. They’ll need to be at their best if England are to avoid defeat to the world’s best Test side who, incidentally, handed them a 4-0 mauling in India 18 months ago.
Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, both currently ranked in the world’s top five bowlers, will be eager to exploit England’s traditional weakness against spin, even if the wickets may not be entirely helpful. But in the end, there’s every chance that this series might boil down to a tale of two captains. Joe Root and Virat Kohli are the two best batsmen currently playing the game (notwithstanding the fact that Steve Smith is taking something of a sabbatical just now). Although they are very different people, with very different lives, their statistics match up extraordinarily closely, as this Tale of the Tape clearly displays.
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