India vs. England: Dress Rehearsal for the World Cup...

In a scenario of a two act play where one scene could vary drastically from the other, there is a case for brakes to be applied as the battle between India and England heats up.

Even as India look to take on the challenge of a Test tour presently, in a year’s time, India will land once more on England’s shores, this time for a more multi-varied competition in the next edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. With the clock is ticking down, India will look to capitalize on the knowledge and exposure in conditions as implausible as it seems in the course of three one day internationals but valuable enough for many of the young Indian players still relatively wet behind the ears.

While England’s cricket was grateful that their shocking loss to Scotland in a one-off one day international was overlooked in the wake of the excitement over the FIFA World Cup, they must now similarly brace for the attention of the sports fanatic nation after England’s football team lost a nail biting semi final to Croatia overnight in the run up to the first one day international. In that light, England will be aware that while they scored a resounding whitewash against Australia in the recently concluded five one day international series, India will be a different ball game played under more intense eyes looking for another kind of World Cup glory.

The last time England were in Trent bridge less than a month ago, they went onto to score a record 481 runs, leaving the world debating the impact of Twenty20 and the role of bowlers in the modern game and raising expectations of a high intensity, high profile clash with the visitors from the sub-continent. Although the proposition for high scoring games cannot be ruled out, perhaps it would be safer to surmise that scores would not be as lopsided as they were on that occasion or against Australia. In that sense, England will have a fair assessment of the chinks in their armour in their own quarters as much as in the opposition’s by going up against India. It will be valuable given the uneasy turmoil within the England camp after Joe Root was left out of the last Twenty20 international but is expected to feature in the fifty overs format.

As much as it is a challenge for India to try out some combinations as the conditions offer – including such as the controversial decision by Virat Kohli in the course of the Twenty20 series to leave out Kuldeep Yadav after the latter picked up five wickets in the first Twenty20 match of the series to try out seamers and fast bowlers who would normally relish the opportunity of a try out in typical England conditions, it is a pertinent time for England to go up against a near full strength Indian squad which is arguably a harder proposition than the beleaguered Australian squad. With the speculation revolving around the Indian skipper’s position in the batting order, perhaps as dangerous as it sounds for the team’s leading batsman to give up his favoured spot in the lineup, it would be interesting to see how rigid or adaptable India are as the match fares over the course of fifty overs as opposed to the recently concluded Twenty20 series.

There is though the somewhat comical word of caution from the locals though: the king may die or the horse may fly. While the idea of a dress rehearsal in the lead to the ICC Cricket World Cup is the most logical assumption to this bilateral contest, even more importantly, India will need to don a wary hat given that the conditions in England are said to be not so English in the sense that the summer temperatures have been higher than usual at this time of year which could definitely affect how the pitch plays and also, the team combination and strategy that will then need to move along accordingly for both teams. In that sense, the variables are high enough for either team not to get too carried away in the event of a comprehensive victory or in the face of a debacle with the larger picture of the World Cup looming ahead. A pinch of salt would come handy here. That, and a notepad.

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