As the contest is about to start, both India and England are riding high on brilliant Test series victories away from their homes. While India achieved a well-fought win Down Under against Australia with superlative performance of the young team, England trounced Sri Lanka in their own den convincingly by a clean sweep. The series in India will begin from February 5 at Chennai. It looks to be an exciting series already. The build up to this series has been very enticing. Just when the young Indian team achieved a mighty win against Australia, England Test legend Kevin Pietersen had tweeted asking the Indian team to get ready for a great contest with England. He tweeted in Hindi to spice things up.

Now the English team is in bio-bubble for mandatory quarantine as they arrive in India from Sri Lanka. They will play first two Test matches in MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai and the rest two Test matches at Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad. This will be a four Test match series in India. The last time England played a four Test match series in India in 2012-13. It was a historic Test series as England had shocked India as they won the series 2-1. They had won a Test series in India after 28 years. Skipper Alastair Cook played like a true champion as he orchestrated the win against India. However, in the last series that England played in India, India had crushed them with 4-0 win in a five Tests series in 2016. But that was an exception as India have thoroughly dominated England on Indian soil.

There are so many factors to look into while anticipating the Test series. Former England coach and Zimbabwe legend Andy Flower has already said that England will find it difficult to beat India in the upcoming series. He said that India will be more confident as a nation after the win Down Under. There are a lot of things which prompts us to agree with him. India have been an ominous team on home soil. The team has been blessed with great spinners since the very beginning. And, playing against them on Indian tracks is not easy by any sense of imagination. This time as well, despite the injury of Ravindra Jadeja, India have four spinners at their disposal. Playing against Ravichandra Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel will not be easy. They have performed convincingly well on foreign decks recently. On the other hand, England can also fancy their chances as they also have a set of spinners who could be dangerous in India as they also have been in good form of late. England have Dom Bess, Jack Leach and Moeen Ali in the squad. If the wickets are rank turners then they could be dangerous as well.

Both the teams have good pacers in the squads. While India have Jaspreet Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur, England have James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes. They are a good bunch of pacers. While Indian spinners seem to be more experienced, English pacers look to be more potent. The English pacers can use the dry conditions well and reverse swing the ball. They also have a tearaway pacer in Jofra Archer. He can upset the batsmen anytime. James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes are master craftsmen when it comes to swinging the ball. It is going to be very exciting.

As far as the batting is concerned, there is a head to head contest between both the skippers. Both Virat Kohli and Joe Root are among the very best in operation these days. Skipper Virat Kohli had a remarkable series against England when they were in India last time. He was player of the series as he amassed 655 runs in five match series. This time, Joe Root has come to India after a great series against Sri Lanka. He has scored big innings of 228 runs and 186 runs in the latest series. He is in great form and looks to be in great position to play against Indian spinners. There will be a battle of supremacy between both the captains when they will lock horns against each other on February 5.

There are some great names in the batting order for both the teams as well. The batting line up consisting of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya is very intimidating one. However, England also have some great names in their batting order. They have Ben Stokes, Zak Crawley, Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, Dom Sibley, Jos Buttlet and Ollie Pope. Pope is slated to join the team later. As far as head to head batting prowess is concerned, Indian team looks to be having an upper hand on paper. Both the wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and Jos Buttler look to be great prospects for the respective teams.

After seeing the abilities of players head to head, it can be said that the series is going to be very competitive. While many people would put their money on India as they are playing on home soil and coming from a great win, England are also not looking much behind. Anything can happen in the series and it looks to be very much open. All in all, it is going to be a great start of 2021 as there is a high octane series in the offing. This test series will be a defining one as far as the ICC Test Championship is concerned. At present, India are at the top of the table, England are at fourth position. India will be too keen to maintain their position at the pinnacle, England will look to better their rankings.

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The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer. Writer is a freelance journalist/journalist based in Delhi

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