Pace, seam and swing have been the biggest concerns for Indian batsmen while dealing with the red cherry on English soil over the years. Everyone has vivid memories of how English seamers ended up on top of the Indian batsmen every time both sides took the field in England’s backyard.

As the rivalry begins once again on August 1 with the first of the five Test matches at Edgbaston in Birmingham, the Indian batsmen will look to better their predecessors while the English seamers would like to maintain their dominion over their Indian counterparts. However, what India must not forget or rather underestimate is the spinners of the English side.

It’s a well known fact that Indian batsmen have been traditionally good players of spin. They have proved their mettle and superiority against this art of bowling time and again over the years on numerous occasions. However, there have been instances too when this very art of bowling has turned out to be their nemesis despite their specialization. Take for instance, their previous tour of England back in 2014. They had underestimated the bowling abilities of Moeen Ali immensely and in turn the English all-rounder had picked up 19 wickets in 5 matches with his off-spin. Not only that, those wickets included two match winning hauls, a four wicket and a five wicket haul, as well.

With the current condition in England where people are experiencing heat-waves all across the country, the conditions are expected to aid spinners further in this series. While that is good news for India and their spinners, the English spinners in Ali and Adil Rashid are capable of spurring surprises as well, their recent exploits in the ODI series being evidence of that.

It’s true that the playing spin is an Achilles heel for the English batsmen and the Indian spinners will try to take advantage of the conditions this time around. But the way the English batsmen showed adapting capabilities against spin in the ODI series, they can be effective in the Tests as well if they apply themselves similarly. If England can combine that with good performances from Ali and Rashid, they may just find the formula to dominate a strong Indian side this time as well.

There have been a lot of instances when opposition spinners have bettered their Indian counterparts, even on their home tracks. Everyone remembers how Alastair Cook’s England trumped a strong Indian side in their own backyard in 2012. The spin duo of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar combined to pick 37 wickets in the 3 match series, thus helping England win by a 2-1 margin.

If that is not enough, something similar was repeated by Australia’s spin duo of Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon at Pune back in 2017. The duo shared 17 wickets between them with O’Keefe bagging 12 of them for just 70 runs as India lasted for just 74 overs in the whole match. That was followed up by another 8-wicket haul from Nathan Lyon at Bengaluru even though Australia lost the match. Although Australia still went on to lose the series by a 2-1 margin, Lyon and O’Keefe’s spells showed that Indian batsmen can be tamed by spin as well if bowled properly.

Keeping in mind their failure to deal with Ali in the previous tour as well, India should be better prepared this time to play spin along with playing seam bowling which has been their traditional weakness. They have to remember that the English spinners will be at their best only when attacked. So, instead of attacking, testing their patience would be a better ploy to play safe for the Indian batsmen.

Both Ali and Rashid average above 40 with the ball in Tests and their strike rates of 67.1 and 66.9 isn't impressive either. So, that proves that they lack the penetrative capability as far as longer formats are considered. There's hardly anything that the Indian batsmen should be afraid of. But attacking them will either destroy their confidence and unsettle their lengths or will give them the edge to get on top of India’s batsmen if the attacking ploy goes wrong. After all, that's how Ali took advantage when India underestimated him and tried to attack him in the previous tour.

So, the best tactic would be to play their deliveries on merit. That wouldn't give the English spinners even an inch to dominate proceedings.