Is England the Underdog Against India?
Like the red double-decker buses on the streets of London, the England cricket team made international teams look up to them with their string of performances within the subcontinent in the recent past. Call it a limited-over match at United Arab Emirates or a pressure cooker World Cup final at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata (India); they have been through all. Revenge is a tough word but the cricketing rivalry between India and England in the last few years reached that echelon. The British cavalry, who were triumphant in their preceding assignment in whites here (in 2012), is set to rustle up another bout of glory. But they have a code to crack, Virat Kohli.
The 28-year-old’s record as a skipper carries an A+ with series wins against West Indies and New Zealand. So what does captain Alastair Cook have to say?
“It's a big challenge any time you play the top ranked teams in their backyard. They are comfortable in these conditions and it is a huge task for our guys who have not played enough cricket in the subcontinent as a group,” says Cook, whose performance against Bangladesh in the recently concluded series raised eyebrows. England lost the second Test by 108 runs, thereby allowing the hosts to level series at 1-1. However, their brief stay in Bangladesh could help them adapt faster in India considering similar weather conditions.
Cook is taking pressure off his side labeling themselves as ‘underdogs’. “These are different conditions, but being underdogs takes a lot of pressure off us," said the Lancashire player, who flaunts a terrific record (four hundreds and a double ton) against India. He is trying to inspire confidence among his boys citing their good run against South Africa away when they were number one in the rankings.
England’s team selection will be interesting to note after the mixed performance in Bangladesh. “We have selection calls to make. The process started with the two games,” adds Cook, who recalled his words after the loss at Ahmedabad in the series opener in 2012. The southpaw slammed 176 but couldn’t take his side home.
“I remember saying in the press conference after the first Test when talk was India will win 4-0. I had said we might turn around and win 3-1. Anything is possible,” he said.
England pocketed the four-match series 2-1. But since that loss, India haven’t gone down to any team at home. On the other hand, England reached the final of the ICC World Twenty20 earlier this year, held in India.
"Whatever challenge we have thrown up to these guys in big games, someone has stood up and played good cricket that's the challenge we face here where we are underdogs," said the skipper, whose highest score in Tests (294) is also against India.
The first Test will start from November 9 in Rajkot.