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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Injuries threaten to derail India ahead of England Tests

Injuries threaten to derail India ahead of England Tests

July 19, 2018 08:59 IST

India's carefully devised plan to triumph in England seems to be coming undone with injuries to their key bowlers, notes Rediff.com's Harish Kotian.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

IMAGE: Bhuvneshwar Kumar is doubtful for the five-Test series against England after aggravating his back injury during the third ODI against England. Photograph: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images

It could have proved to be a defining series for India's new regime under Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, but at the moment things are definitely not looking that bright for the visitors as they begin their preparations for a high-profile five-Test series in England.

Having protected their specialist fast bowlers in cotton wool in the last year or so by restricting their appearances in the limited overs format to save them for important Test series, India's carefully devised plan to triumph in England seems to be coming undone.

The key for Kohli & Co. to succeed in English conditions, where India have traditionally struggled with the bat, is to better their counterparts with the ball but the recent injuries could throw a spanner into their works.

 

Pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are big doubts with injury issues, while Mohammed Shami is back after missing the one-off Test after failing the Yo Yo test.

The only positive for India is that veteran Ishant Sharma will be in good rhythm going into the Tests, having spent a few months playing for the English county side Sussex.

Umesh Yadav is also another one who could be handy in English conditions having shown great improvement in his bowling recently, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya provides the much-needed balance if he gets his bowling right.

If Bhuvneshwar is unable to make it for the first couple of games, it will be a big blow for India's chances. Going by the BCCI's statement, his participation in the Test series looks doubtful after he aggravated his lower back injury, while playing in the final ODI against England at Leeds on Tuesday, July 17.

Bumrah, who was one of India's key performers in the Test series in South Africa, has been ruled out of the first Test, dealing India's chances another big blow.

No doubt Shami, Umesh, Ishant along with Pandya form a potent pace attack, but it could have been much better for India had they a fully fit Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah at their disposal.

Wrist spin seems to be the flavour of the season and that is why spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be keen to stamp their authority.

The off-spinner and the left-arm spinner will aim to replicate their success at home in overseas conditions and will no doubt get enough opportunities in a long series.

Kuldeep Yadav has shown a lot of promise in the T20I and ODI series, taking quite a lot of wickets, but Test cricket is a different kettle of tea and it is difficult to see him getting the nod ahead of Ashwin or Jadeja, at least in the first couple of games.

With wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha ruled out with injury, Dinesh Karthik gets another chance to resurrect his Test career.

He could also groom the exciting young Rishabh Pant who got his maiden Test call up following his good showing with the bat for India 'A' during their ongoing tour of England.

Karthik's addition gives the batting line-up some depth along with Pandya who is capable of contributing with the bat.

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: Virat Kohli will look to banish demons of his last tour of England and silence his critics. Photograph: Lee Warren/Getty Images

The opening slot will be a conundrum for India like it was in the ODIs and T20Is, having to choose between Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and K L Rahul.

If Rahul is dropped down the order like he was in the Afghanistan Test, then Cheteshwar Pujara's place is in doubt.

Pujara struggled in his last few games for Yorkshire, but he is one batsman India needs in prime form if they are to make a mark in England.

Ajinkya Rahane will be expected the share the burden of India's batting after his good showing on the last tour of England.

Captain Virat Kohli will look to banish the demons of his last tour of England and silence critics.

Karun Nair has been preferred ahead of Rohit Sharma for whom the Test doors have been shut for now.

India were whitewashed 4-0 in 2011, then lost 1-3 in 2014 and will be keen to reverse those results against a confident England side who are yet to lose a Test series at home in four years.

India could take inspiration from Pakistan's recent showing in England when Sarfraz Ahmed's young side drew the two-Test series 1-1 following a shock 9 wicket victory in the opening Test at Lord's in May.

As they displayed in South Africa where they were narrowly edged out 1-2, Virat and his boys are no pushovers and if they start on the right note, then they will take some stopping!

Harish Kotian / Rediff.com