India versus England: What Lessons Have the Visitors Learned So Far in the Series?
After the opening two Tests of England’s highly-anticipated series with India, there’s nothing to separate the two sides. Following their opening-Test success, the visitors couldn't extend their lead following a masterclass from Ravichandran Ashwin. Although only halfway through the series, England will already have learned a significant amount about their side ahead of the 2021-22 Ashes tour. So, where do Chris Silverwood’s team need to improve based on the opening two Tests?
Conditions Make England Heavy Underdogs
In the build-up to this clash, many expected that whoever won the toss would gain an advantage. That proved to be the case in the first Test, with England defeating the hosts by 227 runs. However, next time out, India prepared a pitch that undoubtedly played to their strengths at the MA Chidambaram Stadium after Virat Kohli stated his discontent for the opening pitch. As such, the Telegraph state that India’s management played a heightened role in preparing the second Test's wicket.
Although former England international David Lloyd labelled the wicket as an embarrassment, Stuart Broad said the visitors had no complaints and touched on the perks of home advantage. The third Test will take place on a faster pitch in Ahmedabad, and India are still heavy favourites for the series, as they will likely rely on Jasprit Bumrah to provide the breakthrough. As of February 23rd, the hosts are 8/15 to win the third Test with Funbet live betting, and other markets also showcase that India have the advantage. For example, Ashwin and Bumrah lead the line regarding the top bowlers for the first innings, while the home side are 5/8 to take a first-innings lead.
The Perfect Pre-Ashes Test
In many ways, England couldn’t have asked for a better opponent with their fierce battle with Australia looming. At the time of writing, India are the world’s second-ranked Test team, as per the ICC’s team leaderboard, but are level on a rating of 118 with the leaders, New Zealand. By comparison, the Baggy Greens are third, fractionally ahead of England. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that, prior to their ongoing contest with Silverwood’s team, India defeated the Aussies 2-1 in a series Down Under.
Regarding how they compare, there are similarities in both the hosts’ and Australia’s line-ups. For example, Kohli and Steve Smith, each of whom are top-order batsman, rank in the top five regarding the ICC’s Test batting rankings. Moreover, Bumrah and Ishant Sharma also provide the ideal warm-up to Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins. Furthermore, from a spin standpoint, there’s little to separate Ashwin and Nathan Lyon, while Axar Patel has also posed a threat thus far, taking the wickets of Dom Sibley, Jack Leach, Joe Root, and Ollie Pope in the second Test.
Based on the first two Test matches against India, it’s not unfair to say that England appear to have a problem facing spin. Across both of the visitors’ batting outings in the second Test, only three of the 20 wickets that fell came against pace bowlers, with Mohammed Siraj and Sharma claiming Leach, Pope, and Rory Burns.
Plenty for England to Learn
Thus far, it’s clear that Silverwood’s team have to improve, and they have to do so somewhat soon. Although the Chennai pitch didn’t help the away side, few can argue that the top order doesn't have an issue against spin. Should that continue into the Ashes, Lyon will wreak havo