NatWest Series Preview - India Justified Favourites

Whilst seven one-day matches may not seem like the ideal preparation for England or India in the run up to the ICC Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa, they will nevertheless take centre stage as the two countries travel from Southampton to Lord's via Bristol, Edgbaston, Old Trafford, Headingley and The Oval. Both sides suffered disappointing World Cup campaigns - India were dumped out of their group by Bangladesh while England flattered to deceive by making it to the Super Eight stage. Since then, much has changed. India have beaten England in the Test series and imparted revenge on Bangladesh. For all that India have made positive strides, England have at best stood still. A series loss to the West Indies, having been 1-0 up to boot, was disappointing, to say the least, especially considering how easily England had despatched the Caribbean outfit in the Test series. India, buoyed by their first Test series victory on English soil in 21 years and a confident victory over Scotland in their warm up game, are firm favourites to win the series, and rightly so. England may well have the returning all-rounders Andrew Flintoff and Ravi Bopara to boost the ranks, although the loss of Ryan Sidebottom may be keenly felt at The Rose Bowl. If England were to beat India 6-0, they would leap above them into third place in the ICC Team rankings. Don't waste your money on that one - there is more chance of Scotland winning the Twenty20 World Cup, and if anything, a 6-0 scoreline wouldn't flatter an Indian side high on confidence, high on form and with history on its side. John Pennington © Cricket World 2007