India vs England 2018: Overcast conditions, struggling batsmen keep visitors worried ahead of 1st Test 

On the eve of the first Test between England and India, overcast conditions greeted the teams at Edgbaston ground in Birmingham. While the hosts’ bowlers enjoyed the weather, the Virat Kohli-led side would be worried a bit.

India and England will resume Test rivalry on Wednesday in the first match of the five-contest rubber.

The visitors will be a tad worried as some of their main batsmen are not in form and it was evident in the net session on Tuesday as well.

While Kohli, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane found their groove, Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara struggled.

Kohli, who had a forgettable Test series in England in 2014, will be keen to score heavily this time and lead from the front. His form is key for the team’s success in the Pataudi Trophy, which is currently with England.

One of the challenges of Kohli’s captaincy will be the current tour in England. He has mastered the art of scoring against all attacks and conditions. But he has a new place to conquer - England.

India’s bowling attack has been weakened without the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. However, Rahane felt the team needs to play “positive” cricket and take one game at a time.

“We all have to just believe in ourselves. We just want to play good cricket. The conditions here in England are like sub-continent so far. We just need to play positive and think one game at a time,” Rahane said.

Even coach Ravi Shastri also believe that “India have the potential to be one of the best travelling teams”.

“At the moment, there is no side in the world that travels properly. We know our score-lines in England before this tour, 4-0 (2011), 3-1 (2014). We want to do much better than that,” Shastri said.

A senior player said the team will be “aggressive” and aim to win every Test.

“We are aggressive. We play to win. Even in this series, we are playing to win. We are not here to draw games or fill in the numbers. We play every game to win and take the game forward. And if in trying to win we lose a game, tough luck. As long as we win more than we lose, we are happy,” a senior player told MyNation. 

While India’s bowling has suffered losses due to injuries, in the rival camp, seniors James Anderson and Stuart Broad are under the scanner as to whether they will pull through to play all five Tests.

Former captain Alastair Cook hoped the duo would take part in all five matches in the space of six weeks.

“There was always that question, and it always amazes me how many times they (Anderson and Broad) get through it. I think it’s a testament to their fitness and ability to soak up the demands of international cricket as a bowler. You never know, I just hope they can (do it again), it’s obviously a big test for them, Jimmy’s 36  – he won’t thank me for mentioning that! I still find it amazing that they can do what they do after bowling so many times. Hopefully they can, if they don’t then it’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up,” Cook said.

Cook also backed leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who has come under heavy criticism from former players and fans over his inclusion in the Test squad.

“It is interesting because it is so unusual, because of Dil saying he wasn’t going to play red-ball cricket,” Cook said on Rashid’s selection.

“But over the last couple of months, there have been some exceptional circumstances with the guys who have been next in line. I think over the last 18 months, I haven’t played with him but watching how he has gone about his business in the one-dayers and even yesterday facing him in the nets and talking to him about his bowling, he has matured as a cricketer and improved since we last saw him in an England shirt. In one sense, I feel a little bit sorry for Adil – all the political side of the selection, rather than looking at him,” Cook added.

There was still no clarity from the team management as to which Playing XI would India pick for the series opener. And it remains to be seen whether they go in with chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav or retain Ravindra Jadeja.

All in all, a cracking series is expected with two quality teams set to face off.