This is being billed as India’s best chance of winning in England for some time after a couple of disappointing recent tours. They’ve had plenty of time to get acclimatised through the T20 and ODI series and the conditions couldn’t have been more accommodating, with a hot summer expected to make pitches dry and slow, a far cry from the green seamers the hosts would like to prepare if given the choice. If India are to win, they’ll likely have to do it through spin as their seamers look inferior to England’s, particularly with injuries to Bumrah and Kumar. In overseas wins in England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand since 2000, India’s seamers average 26.18 and their spinners 23.98, so we expect Ashwin and Jadeja to do the majority of the damage.
For the hosts, Broad and Anderson are coming back from injuries, as is Ben Stokes, whilst Chris Woakes is unfit to start the series and so their squad is likely to be stretched in what’s a packed schedule. There’s uncertainty surrounding their spin option too, with Ali and even more surprisingly Rashid being recalled to the squad on the back of impressive performances in the last two ODI’s.
Should Rashid be in the staring XI we’d regard that as a massive error on England’s part â€“ he hasn’t played any red ball cricket since last summer while their strength lies in their seam bowling and their spinner’s primary role is one of containment to allow the likes of Broad and Anderson to rest. With the third bowling option, Curran or the uncapped Porter, looking weaker than normal for England and Stokes lacking match practice with the ball, India will look to attack Rashid and relish the greater number of bad bowls inherently on offer from a wrist spinner.
Given the dry summer, we’d have these two sides much closer together than the betting suggests and as a result we’ll be with India at the prices.