England might be without Andrew Strauss but with Kevin Pietersen's inclusion, a lot of troubles have been eased, even if just a bit. Alastair Cook has improved leaps and bounds and seems to be enjoying the extra charge, that of leading the side. Jonny Bairtstow, Nick Compton and Joe Root, all are first timers. In fact, Root and Compton will be Test debutants if and when they play.
Cook already has 20 centuries and 29 fifties to his name in 83 Test matches of which 2 hundreds and 4 half centuries are against India. (All AFP Photos)
Jonathan Trott: In the two matches he has played against India on the their tour of England, he scored 98 runs with an average of 24.50. A shoulder injury meant no further part for him in that series. An overall average of 50.49 though, means that Trott is much more than just a valuable player for England.
His twitching and prodding might be irritable to the opposition but as long as the runs are coming, Barmy Army will not complain one bit.
Ian Bell: Sometimes unheralded, sometimes unnoticed, the England no. 3, 4, 5, 6 (you name it and he has batted there) will be all geared up for India tour. In 12 matches against India, he has amassed 874 runs at a modest average of 41.61 but in India that goes down to a mere 20.00.
With Andrew Strauss not around, it will be interesting to see where Bell bats. He performs best when at 5 or 6 averaging 50+ and 60+ respectively. Also, England is certain to have a new opening partner to skipper Alastair Cook. So, with Bell coming in at 6 it may ensure middle-order security.
Kevin Pietersen: Cook announced before hand that KP will be batting at 4 and it is best for England that he does so. He has an immaculate record against the Men in Blue, averaging 62.15 overall and a decent 40.55 in Indian conditions.
Moreover, Pietersen will be pumped up for his return to cricket in England whites after all that happened regarding mobiles and smses, which was totally bereft of cricket.
Matt Prior: For a wicket-keeper, an overall average of 42.61 and that against India of 39.27 is commendable. Prior came good for England in the first Test when India toured them and it was probably the most crucial of his knocks in that series.
He has a habit of putting his hand up when the team is under the pump and England will not be expecting anything less than that on India tour.
Nick Compton: A legacy to live up to but at 29-years old he might not have loads of opportunities. Grandson of the English great Denis Compton, he has played 96 first class matches at a decent average of 44.35.
Transforming that success to international cricket and that too in Indian conditions will be a huge challenge for him. To become a regular feature in the side though, he has to cross these hurdles.
Joe Root: He has been talked of as a much anticipated replacement to Andrew Strauss and averaging 38.01 as an opener in English conditions, he might just have deserved it.
Batting in dust bowls though, which is a serious possibility, might be something that the youngster will experience for the first time and that is the biggest challenge for him as of now.
Jonny Bairstow: Still a fledgling career at best but it seems that England are willing to invest in this youngster. He proved his capabilities with a top score of 95 against South Africa (although England were hammered) and followed it up with another half century in the next innings.
On low, slow tracks, Bairstow still has to be tested and England would hope he passes with flying colours.
Tim Bresnan: He is England's go to man when the team is in need of a wicket or in need of some quick runs. Even on India's tour to England in 2011, he scored a couple of fifties and flayed the bowlers all around the park.
With his unusual technique, Bresnan just might be instrumental in getting England a few useful runs down the order.
Stuart Broad: Just like Bresnan, the lanky fast bowler too scored crucial half centuries during India's tour of England to give Zaheer Khan and co. nightmares galore.
The new look England side (since going atop the Test rankings) may have lost out to South Africa and lost their top spot but they believe in fighting till the end and Bresnan, Broad, Anderson and even Onions are an integral part of that attitude.
Dec 13 2012,09:30 (IST)
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