England v India, 3rd npower Test, Edgbaston August 9, 2011

Top spot is within England's sights


Match Facts

August 10-14, Edgbaston
Start time 11.00 (1000GMT)

The Big Picture

In 1981 the race riots were an undercurrent throughout a summer where England claimed a famous Ashes series victory. Thirty years later the unrest which began in London and has now spread elsewhere has overshadowed the build-up to a Test match where England can go No. 1 in the world with victory over India.

The England team were locked in their hotel on Monday evening, while India were keeping tabs on the situation, but the match is expected to go ahead as planned at a new-look Edgbaston which has undergone extensive redevelopment. The hosts are a win away from taking over from India at the top spot in Test cricket and they will take some stopping in their current form.

India have been a major disappointment during the opening two matches except for the herculean efforts of Rahul Dravid and occasional bursts from their pace bowlers. The batsmen have failed to reach 300 in four innings, while the support bowling for the quicks has been awful and the fielding often poor. For a side that came with such a mighty tag it has been quite a fall from grace.

MS Dhoni, himself in a poor run of form, and coach Duncan Fletcher have a major challenge. They will hope the return of Virender Sehwag can provide an x-factor but he's played hardly any cricket recently, falling for 8 against Northamptonshire over the weekend. Still, he has never been a player to value warm-up matches too highly.

Despite England's outstanding performances it is now that they could be at their most vulnerable. They have a recent track record of losing their way when a major target is there for the taking; at Headingley in 2009 and Perth in 2010 they stumbled with the Ashes up for grabs before recovering to claim the prize while last summer against Pakistan they lost at The Oval having been 2-0 up. This time they'll be desperate not to leave the series open.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

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Watch out for...

India have sent out their SOS - Send our Sehwag. After three months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury Virender Sehwag has returned to action although it remains to be seen how effective he can be. His shoulder is still causing trouble and he's also suffered partial deafness. Yet he has the ability to open some old scars. His 83 off 68 balls in Chennai was the key innings in India's successful run chase during the 2008 series against England. Sehwag is the type of batsman who can score a hundred in a session and give a struggling team belief. Still, it's asking a huge amount of one cricketer.

Another batsman returning to Test cricket, although under different circumstances, is Ravi Bopara. However, with Jonathan Trott unlikely to be absent for long it is set to be a one-off chance for Bopara to show his game has matured to make him a viable option in the Test team. He'll slot in at No. 6, a more natural position than No. 3 where Australia found him out, but still needs to convince he has the technique and temperament for the top level. However, having narrowly missed out to Eoin Morgan earlier in the summer he knows he's still the next in line.

Team news

With Trott and Chris Tremlett ruled out England don't face any last-minute selection issues. Steven Finn is part of the squad but won't keep out Tim Bresnan after his outstanding display at Trent Bridge. Bopara is likely to bat at No. 6 on his Test return which means Morgan moving up one spot.

England (probable): 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson.

India know they'll be without Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh for the rest of the tour, but will at least be able to welcome back Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir to strengthen the batting and allow everyone to play in their usual positions. Given Suresh Raina's problems against the short ball Virat Kohli, who replaced Yuvraj, may be considered while Amit Mishra is still favourite to come in for Harbhajan despite talk of a four-man pace attack.

India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (c) (wk), 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Sreesanth.

Pitch and conditions

The surface was very green in the days leading up to the game and although some grass will be taken off there should still be plenty to encourage the seamers. However, Steve Rouse, the Edgbaston groundsman, said there won't be much pace. The ground has had problems with wickets this summer and one Championship pitch was ruled 'poor' and cost Warwickshire eight points. The forecast, meanwhile, is mixed with rain expected to be around at times.

Stats and trivia

  • England have won four out of five Tests against India at Edgbaston although the two teams haven't met on this ground since 1996, when Nasser Hussain and Sachin Tendulkar scored hundreds.

  • Kevin Pietersen averages 60.57 at this ground but the next best among the fit England batsmen is Andrew Strauss's 32.10.

  • For a full stats preview click here


"Even in the two Tests we've played, there are moments when we've really had our backs to the wall. We're not expecting anything different from them, we're going to have to work very hard and hopefully earn the right to get on top in this Test match."
Andrew Strauss refuses to take India lightly.

"If he nicks it and doesn't walk it may be different, but apart from that he's quite good."
MS Dhoni doesn't think Virender Sehwag's partial deafness will be much of an issue.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 10, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    For the betterment of Indian cricket let that useless milestones man get to his record. Everytime he gets stuck with a useless record, everything that has to do with team's focus on winning, saving etc get thrown out of the window into a trash can. Let that paper 'god' get to that useless milestone so that Indians can concentrate better on things that matter.

  • shamlaatu on August 10, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    lol hahaha Exactly what I feared. Check out my comment on "shamlaatu on (August 09 2011, 19:18 PM GMT)"

    Lets see if Raina and Laxman can do the repair work. They should.

  • Kashi0127 on August 10, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    This is a great opportunity for Indian Board and selecors. It requires a bold decision. We have been carrying the dead weight of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Zheer for too long. Get rid of them Look at history: Tendulkar gets stuck on the threshold of some milestone or the other and evryting related to team goes out of the window. Zaheer and Swhwag are contantly injury prone - may be they just like the money (aka IPL) and do not have huts to admit it like Malinga.

    I say forget this series and next couple of ones. Clean up this mess and go for yuoung blood - keep Dravid and Laxman for some solidarity.

  • dummy4fb on August 10, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    the way india is going.. they wil score less thn 200 in the 1st innings

  • cardassian on August 10, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    Great start England. Keep up the good work.

  • dummy4fb on August 10, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    wht a job.. wht a golden duck.. bravo shewag ..bravo

  • dummy4fb on August 10, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    I am highly delighted to know that captain Strauss won the toss and decided to bowl first in the bouncy pitch of Edgbaston which has mostly been bowler-friendly and it is useful mainly for seamers as they have taken more wickets in comparison to spinners and I'm sure that it will definitely helpful for the English seamers today. Seamers like Anderson, Broad, Bresnan have really got the opportunity to sharpen their bowling and I want this to happen. Come on England come on. Don't depend on Bopara and don't even believe on him as he won't be helpful for u. Just believe on yur useful and reliable batsmen like Cook, Strauss, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan and Prior although Cook and Struass are not having good form right now. U must need to bowl sharply today and try to bowl out India before it makes 300 to put enormous pressure over the team as England's position has been now strengthened after two consecutive comprehensive victories. All the best to England.

  • sachin_mumbai on August 10, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    If England gets the top spot in the rankings India will not be the most weakest side to have been number 1 any more....

  • dummy4fb on August 10, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    I am an Indian but not mad enough to turn my face from TRUTH. Eng is much better team as of now. To all my friends who are whining about India's stay on top since Dec 2009, please see the stats. Ind played max. tests in 2010 (14 tests, joint with Eng)) and only 2 in SA, all 12 were in India and Bangladesh. Ind played Bang, NZ (fairly weaker side) and if u see all those results, barring winning with AUS (2-0) we neevr won any series convincingly. Even in 2011 as of now Ind has played 6 tests (joint with Eng) but since all the test are played outside subcontinent, India's points were dropping from beginning of 2011. In 2011, there was just one test (vs SA) during first 6 months so was India on top for 1.5 year. Since Dec 2009, Ind and Eng have played (20) tests however other teams Aus (13), SA (12), NZ (8), SL (9) have played very few and that too outside home conditions. Know the facts first before commenting guys.

  • Harmony111 on August 10, 2011, 9:08 GMT


    YOU ARE A LEGEND. You said that India have played their test matches against lower ranked teams. Tell me, how can India play a higher ranked team when India are ranked #1?

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