England v India, 1st npower Test, Lord's July 18, 2011

Bowling gives England the edge

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
In a contest between two of the world's best batting teams, the potency of the England attack in home conditions could prove to be the difference

Top-of-the-table contest
Since their last clash in 2008, both India and England have gone on to become two of the most dominant teams in Tests. India have not lost a single series under MS Dhoni's captaincy and have won six of their last nine series. After beating Australia at home 2-0 in 2010, India drew their first series in South Africa in 2010-11 by winning the second Test in Durban. England, on the other hand, lost 1-0 to West Indies in a series they controlled for most parts. After grittily holding on for a 1-1 draw in South Africa in 2009-10, England registered emphatic series wins at home against Pakistan and in Australia. The series win in Australia was their first in the country in 24 years, and their superb display was an indication of their much-improved all-round strength.

Both teams have been outstanding with the bat in recent years and average over 40 in Tests since 2008. England also boast a good conversion rate of fifties to centuries (0.54) which is better than that of India (0.45), but well short of South Africa's (0.75) in the same period. India's top-order batsmen have scored quicker and have been more consistent than their English counterparts, but the absence of the aggressive Virender Sehwag is a huge dent to India's chances. On the bowling front, England have been the better team. They average 32.08 in Tests since 2008 and their average difference of 8.00 (batting average minus bowling average) is second only to that of South Africa (11.14). India have a fairly high bowling average of nearly 37 which puts them at a slight disadvantage going into a series that could determine the top Test team. However, England, who have to win the series by at least a two-Test margin to become the top-ranked Test side, have not won two Tests in a home series against India since the 3-0 win in 1974.

Top Test teams in terms of average difference since Jan 2008
Team W/L ratio Batting average Bowling average Average diff 100/50 5WI/10WM
South Africa 2.12 42.69 31.55 11.14 50/66 19/2
England 2.33 40.08 32.08 8.00 57/106 33/3
Sri Lanka 1.66 43.19 37.76 5.43 37/62 16/3
India 2.57 40.85 36.97 3.88 53/118 16/3
Australia 1.28 37.26 35.03 2.23 46/122 24/3

India hold advantage in recent clashes
England clearly have the upper hand in the 99 Tests played between the two teams so far. India, who have won 19 Tests and lost 34, have been the better side in home Tests but quite ordinary in England. But their display in England in recent times has been encouraging. They came back from behind to level the series 1-1 in 2002, and went on to win the series 1-0 in 2007 after winning the second Test at Trent Bridge. Despite ordinary batting and bowling performances against England overall, India have clearly been the better side in Tests since 2000 winning five and losing two. Their batting average of 39.03 and bowling average of 35.60 gives them an average difference of 3.43.

India's Test record against England
  Played Won Lost Drawn Batting avg Bowling avg
Overall 99 19 34 46 30.91 37.00
In England 48 5 23 20 28.13 41.50
Since 2000 15 5 2 8 39.03 35.60
In England since 2000 7 2 1 4 42.46 39.84

India's poor record at Lord's and Edgbaston
Although India have been successful on recent visits to England, their record at Lord's, the venue for the first Test, will worry them. Apart from their solitary win in1986, they haven't had much success, losing ten Tests at the venue. In contrast, England, who struggled to win a Test at Lord's for much of the 1980s and 1990s, have won 12 and lost just three matches at the venue since 2000. England's batting average (43.56) and average difference (13.00 ) at Lord's is by far their best at any home ground during this period. India, who won at Trent Bridge and drew at The Oval in the 2007 series, have a poor record in Edgbaston, where they have lost four out of five Tests.

Among grounds that have hosted at least eight Tests since 2000, Lord's and The Oval have been the best batting venues. A combination of the fickle weather and better batting conditions have meant that the draw percentage at these two venues is the highest among English grounds (34.78 at Lord's and 27.27 at The Oval). In Tests since 2000, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge have low batting averages of 32.68 and 29.53, and hence a very low draw percentage of just 20.

England's record at various home grounds since 2000
Ground Played Won Lost Drawn Batting avg Bowling avg
Lord's 23 12 3 8 43.56 30.56
The Oval 11 6 2 3 37.56 35.55
Edgbaston 10 5 3 2 32.09 33.25
Trent Bridge 10 5 3 2 30.28 28.77
Headingley 9 5 4 0 34.43 33.93
Old Trafford 9 6 1 2 39.89 28.56

Top-class batting teams
During a phase in which India and England have enjoyed great success in Tests, the batting line-ups of both teams have been in top form. Sachin Tendulkar, who is on verge of scoring his 100th international century, has been exceptional in the last three years. He has scored 14 centuries and 11 fifties at an average of 65.21 in Tests since January 2008. His conversion rate of fifties to centuries in the same period (1.27) is much higher than his corresponding career mark (0.86). Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman have also been among the runs with Laxman, in particular, contributing in vital causes in Mohali and Durban. Laxman has, however, had a fairly ordinary time against England in Tests and averages just 34.35 in 20 innings.

Among England's batsmen, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott have shown tremendous consistency in the last two years. Cook, who has scored nine centuries in his last 30 innings, was England's top run getter in their 3-1 Ashes victory. Since his century on debut against Australia in 2009, Trott has had an excellent run. He has scored six centuries at an average of 62.23 and boasts a superb record at Lord's, where he has scored two centuries and a half-century in his last five innings. Andrew Strauss, who was badly out of form against Sri Lanka, came good in the warm up match against India, and will take confidence from the fact that he scored twin tons in the first Test of the 2008 series against India in Chennai.

Top batsmen for both teams in Tests since Jan 2008 (min 1500 runs)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100/50
Sachin Tendulkar 59 3326 65.21 14/11
Gautam Gambhir 45 2542 60.52 8/13
VVS Laxman 62 2786 55.72 5/22
Jonathan Trott 34 1867 62.23 6/6
Ian Bell 50 2227 53.02 8/11
Alastair Cook 74 3584 51.94 11/18

Sehwag's absence crucial
Cook and Strauss, England's most prolific opening pair, have been involved in 11 century stands in Tests since 2008. In the same period, Cook has also forged highly successful partnerships with Kevin Pietersen and Trott. While the Pietersen-Cook pair has averaged over 75 with seven century partnerships, the Trott-Cook combination has averaged 72.88 and converted five of the six fifty-plus stands into century partnerships.

India could sorely miss the services of Sehwag, who formed India's most successful opening combination with Gambhir. Sehwag's average against England is just 31, but he was also the one who set up India's successful chase of 387 against England in Chennai with a quickfire 83 off 68 balls, and has scored at a strike rate of nearly 91 in Tests since January 2008. The pairing of Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, however, is the key in the Indian middle order. They are among the most prolific batting pairs in Test history, and are only 130 runs behind the all-time leading pairing of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.

Top partnership pairs for both teams (min 1000 runs aggregate since Jan 2008)
Pair Innings Runs Average 100/50
Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss 68 3061 46.37 11/11
Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen 22 1512 75.60 7/5
Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott 19 1312 72.88 5/1
Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir 30 1651 56.93 5/5
Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar 30 1324 47.28 4/6
VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar 27 1305 52.20 4/7

England's bowling more potent
In a series that pits two of the top batting line-ups in the world against each other, the outcome is more likely to depend on the form of the bowling attacks. James Anderson and Graeme Swann are England's in-form bowlers and have been highly effective in English conditions. Anderson, who has over 200 wickets at an average of 31, has been even better at Lord's with 36 wickets in nine Tests at an average just over 28. Anderson has also been successful against top Indian batsmen dismissing Tendulkar on five occasions and Dravid on three. Swann, who made his debut against India in Chennai in 2008, has added a new dimension to England's attack. While his overall average (27.72) and strike rate (57.5) are impressive enough, his corresponding numbers in England (average 23 and strike rate 47) are quite stunning. Chris Tremlett, who had match figures of 6 for 92 in England's seven-wicket defeat against India at Trent Bridge in 2007, has picked up 32 wickets in six Tests at an average of 23.37 since his return in 2010, and will be a major threat on pace-friendly tracks.

Zaheer Khan, who is returning after injury, could be India's key bowler in conditions that are likely to aid swing and seam. Zaheer has an excellent record against three of England's top batsmen, dismissing Strauss and Ian Bell five times each and Cook three times. Harbhajan Singh's away performance has improved somewhat over the last three years, but a comparison with Swann clearly shows who has been the better bowler during this period: compared with Swann's strike rate of 57.5, Harbhajan has bowled 71 deliveries per wicket, which indicates he hasn't been getting his wickets quickly enough.

Top bowlers for both teams since Jan 2008 (min 100 wickets)
Bowler Matches Wickets Average SR 5WI/10WM
James Anderson 39 157 27.81 55.1 7/1
Graeme Swann 32 140 27.72 57.5 10/1
Harbhajan Singh 35 153 33.24 71.0 5/1
Zaheer Khan 25 101 29.16 52.9 5/1

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sukumar on July 21, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    The stats for bowlers after 2008 doesnt reflect the Indian bowlers skill perfectly.Its all bcoz Bhajji & Zak had mostly played on flat Indian pitches which are batsmen paradise. Remeber the tests in recent years in Indian wickets had lot of innings with 400+ scores both by India and the opposition. Swann & Jimmy had mostly played on bowler friendly and good wickets in Eng,Aus which had given them the edge and remeber still Zak has better strike rate which shows he is far better than Jimmy who fails in sub-continent consistently. Zak & Bhajji gonna rock up Eng line up. Thats for sure!!! Wait and Watch.... Gauti,Lax,Rahul,Sachin gonna rock with the bat and Raina/Yuvi/Mukund & Dhoni as well. I bet this series gonna be on Indian side. Dont look at stats which doesnt reflect the capablity of Indians bcos of flat sub-continent tracks.

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    @mpcobra2 u are saying that batsman from other places are better than Indian batsman let me tell you a fact the condition is difficult when it is new for a batsman for ricky pointing australia and england are like home conditions where our batsman feel difficult to bat. similarly he has not performed in India because they are difficult for him and for other england austrialian and southafrican batsman. If you are saying Indian batsman has only performed on Indian soil let me tell u one thing Sachin, sehwag dravid , laxman and gambhir have scored hundreds all round the world. Zaheer is better than anderson any day because he has performed well even on dead pitches which anderson hasnt. similarly Swann is better than harbhajan singh as he has performed in not so favorable conditions

  • mukesh on July 21, 2011, 0:48 GMT

    STATS ARE ALWAYS GOOD WE NEED TO COMPARE BATSMEN AND BOWLERS. WHEN WE INDIANS DON'T WANT OUR BOWLERS TO BE COMPARED TO OPPOSITION BOWLERS THEN ARE WE TRYING TO PROTECT OUR BATSMEN. yeah i see the point all great indian batsmen SRT included have almost always played on batsmen paradise(atleast in india) if we don't want Zaheer to be compared to Anderson then Plz don't compare SRT with Ricky or any other gr8 batsmen from difficult conditions. Its a Truth the Zaheer in indian conditions has performed as much closer to Anderson . And Swann in tough conditions has performed better then our Harbhajan who still complains in india that he doesn't get good wickets lol Bhajji u need to learn gr8 things about spin bowling even after taking 400 dial up kumble and ask some tips;) looking forward for Dravid/LAX/Gamghir Zaheer in particular if possible Mishra instead of Bhajji if selectors n Dhoni Agreeeeeee

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    Please do not compare the stats and decide the best, atleast for the bowlers. Indians played on flat tracks on most occasions and England on seaming and bowler friendly condtions. England are always strong at home, the first test is always a stimulus test for Indians, they find a way more on second and third test to adapt. Hope India would win, but realistically a draw is on cards....

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    ..India is surely going to miss the services of Viru...if he had been in the team, India would definitely be the favourite... and if two of these three legends [Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman] don't stand up, like they have done for so long, India are in trouble...but i still favor the present Indian side to come out victorious...

  • sumeet on July 20, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    @kiran... I was talking about the recent series. Dont go back to 2000...

    As far as those who r hoping for a 3-0 England win, I wud like to read their comments after the 2nd match!

    I repeat... Match 1 is all England can win!!

    Don't underestimate the Indian bowling... It's prolly better than the Engglish attack... We'll find out tomorrow!!!

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2011, 14:44 GMT

    Gambhir is hard has nails. If he fired at the top then this will bode well for the rest of the batting order. he is the key to India's success. I saw him play against the Aussies and man did he dish out hell to the Aussies.

  • Rajesh on July 20, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    Guys- This Indian team apart from the Fabulous three in the middle order has hardcore competitors like Gambhir, Bhajji, PK, Sreesanth who will give back to the English with the same coin. The very fact that their nature is thus, will ensure that do some justice to their cricketing talents on the field as well. As I said earlier, if India bat first on the first day of the first test, that will be the only day when Eng will be ahead in the series. Its a question of acclimatisation and nothing else.

  • Ankush on July 20, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    @ landl47.. 3-0 England lol

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2011, 9:07 GMT

    @sumeetpaul south africa beat india in 2-0 in india in 2000. only reason india need to prove it because they have not shown thier class enough.

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