It goes without saying that an aggressive, in-your-face captain like Virat Kohli would love to win the 5-match test series against Team England. It will help Kohli in improving his record as a captain and also leave a lasting legacy.
The last Indian captain to win a test series in England was Rahul Dravid, and people still remember him for that feat. Since then, every time Team India toured England, they only got a sour taste of defeat. Even a successful captain like M.S. Dhoni couldn’t help India win a test series in England.
Kohli, too, has lost a test series to England by 1-4 while touring in 2018. Despite being the top scorer, he failed to help India clinch the series. That said, it wasn’t Kohli’s fault if his team didn’t live up to the expectations in 2018.
But during 2021 India’s tour of England, it seems that the Indians can emerge as winners. The Indian cricket team is ranked second in test-matches in the world, while England is fourth; however, England can still be formidable when they are playing at home.
To beat England, Kohli and the coach, Ravi Shastri, will have to pick the right team (which, of course, will be a function of the conditions) and have a Plan B in place if Plan A doesn’t work.
Our experts at Fun88 will tell you what can be Kohli’s winning strategy in this blog.
Kohli should pick players based on conditions
We all know that Kohli is a super-confident player, but sometimes, that confidence can become over-confidence, which can cost the team dearly. For example, if he has announced the team for a test match, but conditions change subsequently, then Kohli should be flexible enough to change the playing XI.
India has great spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, but they wouldn’t help if rain is expected to interrupt the play. We think Kohli’s strategy will be to use Ashwin and Jadeja smartly based on the weather report. Another factor he will consider is whether the pitch will help spinners or not.
If a pitch is expected to support spinners and the weather forecast is clear, then India can play even two spinners, else playing one will be more than sufficient. Similarly, if the overcast conditions suggest that the ball will swing, then Kohli should be thinking of including Mohammed Siraj in the playing XI.
Siraj can move the ball in the air and can take wickets. He should be India’s go-to man in such conditions. On the other hand, if it appears that lateral movement will be lesser, then India should go ahead with the experienced trio of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami.
Plan B will be very important for both batting and bowling
It’s well-known that Indian batters have trouble against swing bowling. Even Cheteshwar Pujara has shown vulnerability against swing. But, in this series, in particular, Indian seamers may find it tough as well.
Bumrah is not having a good time in the middle. He was ineffective against New Zealand in the World Test Championships (WTC) final. Questions are being asked about how much pressure his body can take.
So, if Bumrah fails, who will spearhead Indian bowling? Kohli has Sharma, who’s very capable. Then, he has Shami, Umesh Yadav, Siraj, and Shardul Thakur. Both Siraj and Thakur can swing the ball, which means they will be more than handy with the Dukes ball in swinging conditions.
Shami will definitely play the role of the wicket-taker, but he can be expensive, too. If Bumrah plays, then he can stop the flow of runs from one end, while other bowlers take wickets from the other end.
But, if Bumrah doesn’t play, Kohli will be asking Sharma to bowl a tight line and length so that pressure can be maintained on England batsmen, which will help Indian bowlers pick wickets.
The bigger challenge for Kohli will be to have a Plan B with the batsmen. In recent years, only Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have shown the ability to play consistently in English conditions.
If India wants to win the series, Kohli will have to ask the batters to show some responsibility. He must be looking forward to making Rohit Sharma play a pivotal role. Sharma is prolific in the Indian conditions, but has rarely made a big score overseas.
If Sharma fails in one or two tests, then Kohli will, in all likelihood, think of replacing him. Kohli has an option in Abhimanyu Easwaran, who’s a standby opening batsman.
Given that Mayank Agarwal is ruled out of the first test, Easwaran may get a chance to play soon.
Kohli will have to back Rishabh Pant to play his natural game
Rishabh Pant, the swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman, can very well be the X-factor when it comes to India-England 2021 series. Pant is known to show a sheer disregard for bowling, as he can go on hitting them all over the park.
He may lose his wicket in the process, but he can demoralise the opposition to such an extent that India can win the game. Pant has done that in Australia and India. He played a huge role in India beating Australia in Australia. And, Kohli will be expecting him to do the same against England as well.
So far, Kohli and Shastri have backed Pant to play his natural game, but sceptics have tried to caution them. Whatever the sceptics say, the team management will have to let Pant play naturally because he can win matches for India.
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