Since “that” Ashes series in Australia over the winter, the overriding feeling about the England cricket team is that they are a side in strife.
But take a second to consider that India, who’ve just named their squad to face Alastair Cook’s men in a five-match Test series, haven’t won a single Test abroad for three years and suddenly some perspective can be gained.
The big news about MS Dhoni’s travel-sick rabble is the omission of 35-year-old seamer Zaheer Khan, although it’s not clear whether the veteran is missing through injury or lack of form.
Either way the 92-Test bowler’s absence leaves India’s squad desperately short of experience in English conditions.
Khan, a swing bowler of supreme skill and nous, would have been lent on to lead the attack this summer and without him India’s chances of claiming the series, currently at 3/1, took a heavy dent.
The last time India were in this country they didn’t win any match with England in any form. They also had to do without Khan, who suffered an injury on the first day of the Test series.
In the short 13 overs Khan contributed to that tour, he was a threat. His left arm seam had accounted for both Andrew Strauss and Cook, to leave the hosts 62-2 before breaking down. Once he’d gone, England made hay.
Three years later, India visit with just three men who’ve played Tests in the country before; Dhoni, Ishant Sharma and Gautam Gambhir.
Sharma will assume the role of bowling chief, but has just 11 wickets at 58 runs apiece on English soil, compared to Khan’s 31 at 28 from just four more matches.
Gambhir’s inclusion is only likely to be as backup batsman considering he hasn’t donned Indian whites since December 2012 and scraped 102 runs from six innings on the 2011 tour.
The rest of the squad includes star names like Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan who, while supremely talented, could find the difficult English pitch and weather conditions not to their liking.
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