Former India paceman Venkatesh Prasad, who was India’s bowling coach when the team won its last Test series in England in 2007, feels the current squad led by Virat Kohli has a “good chance” of reclaiming the Pataudi Trophy in the five-match series starting on 1 August.

In an exclusive interview with MyNation, the 48-year-old Prasad said England, in their home conditions, will be a “dangerous side” and predicted a competitive series.

Prasad backed skipper Kohli, who had a poor tour of England in 2014, to score heavily and lead by example. In a candid chat, the former India pacer weighed in on various aspects of India's challenge to England in the upcoming Test series. Full interview:  

MyNation: How do you rate India’s chances against England in the five-Test series?

Venkatesh Prasad: The chances are going to be quite good, considering India won the T20I series against England. Though they lost the ODI rubber, it was a closely fought battle. I am sure the Indian team will take a lot of confidence into the Test series after winning the T20Is and fighting well in ODIs. The players are in form. I won’t put a number as to how many Tests India will win, but they have a good chance. But I want to add that it is not going to be easy. It will be an extremely competitive series. England in their conditions are dangerous. India's selection is going to be important.

MN: Looking at the pace-bowling options of both sides, who do you think is better?

VP: I would say they (England) have much more experienced bowlers. Even our bowlers are no less; they are very good. It is important to keep bowling, spell after spell, in good areas. It is important not to release pressure or leak runs. It is all about a game of pressure and whoever handles pressure better will come up trumps.

MN: Is there one bowler who you would pick to be India’s key in the series and will Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah’s absence be a big blow?

VP: Both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah will be missed very much. But still India have good bowlers. The most experienced bowler is Ishant Sharma and it is high time he steps up, takes the lead role and performs. And if Umesh Yadav gets his length right, with his nippy pace and his away going deliveries to the right-handers, he will be dangerous. It is important for him to pitch the ball in the right areas, make the batsmen drive and bring the slip fielders into play. I would still say the England bowlers are more experienced and better because they know the pitches and conditions. So the advantage lies with England, but we are no less.

MN: In 1996, when India toured England, you and Javagal Srinath shared the bulk of pace bowling workload. At that time, there were not many fast bowlers to choose from. Now, things have changed. You must be happy with the current crop of Indian fast bowlers.

VP: When Sri (Srinath) and I were playing, it is not that we did not have fast bowlers in the country. There were (fast bowlers), but (they were) not guided well, monitored properly, including both of us. There was no proper physio; proper care was not taken. Our workload was not monitored well. We did not have quality trainers to work on our fitness. We have always produced good fast bowlers and medium-fast bowlers. What has happened now is that they are monitored and guided well and trained at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). Also, their workload is managed well. They have certain programmes and fitness standards to follow. There are a lot of things - good physios, analysts and so on. That is what we were lacking. The present set of players are very fortunate to have all these things. And that is one of the reasons why their quality is much better. That is why there are more fast bowlers and there is much more competition now. It is a good sign for Indian cricket.

MN: Captain Kohli had a poor Test series in 2014. Do you expect him to turn it around and score heavily this time?

VP: Yes, definitely. He is a player who likes pressure. He would like to perform under pressure. We have seen that happen often. He is somebody who is a true leader. He takes the bull by the horns. He would definitely like to lead from the front and win the series. He would like to set an example as a batsman, also in fielding and (with) his body language. He is very crucial to this team. Players look up to him. Though he failed in the last series, since then he has improved hugely. He is able to handle pressure. One thing is for sure - he is going to score a lot of runs.

MN: Talking about India’s spin combination, should Kuldeep Yadav replace Ravindra Jadeja to partner Ravichandran Ashwin?

VP: I would definitely play Ashwin as the No 1 spinner. Kuldeep is a very good option, there is no doubt about it. We have all seen that he has done very well in the limited-overs format. If the team management is convinced that he is matured enough to play Tests again, then they should play him. However, Test cricket is a different ball game. You need to bowl long spells, batsmen are not in a hurry, and they will play him cautiously. There are not many fielders in the deep, there are many gaps in the field and so on. It is completely different from bowling in limited-overs. But if the team management feels he can handle the pressures of five-day cricket, then they should, most certainly, go ahead and pick him.