Former England captain Allan Lamb reckons the hosts start as favourites during the forthcoming four-Test series against India that gets underway at Lord's on July 21.
In what's being hailed the battle for the 'world championship of Test cricket', India will look to beat a side that has won five Test series in a row, including two consecutive Ashes triumphs. "They are definitely the best two teams in the world right now. It's as big as it gets. It'll be very interesting to see which side goes to the top of the tree," Lamb told MiD DAY.
The South African-born batsman who notched up 14 Test hundreds, including three against India, reckoned England have the edge. "England will start as favourites since they will be playing at home. Also, they have a better seam attack that will be able to exploit the conditions better. Having said that, India have a better side on paper definitely a longer batting line-up. It could come down to a contest between quality batting sides.
At the moment, England's top six batting is as good as any in world cricket, whereas India's strength has always been it's batting," said Lamb.
The first Test, at the home of cricket, will also mark a centenary of Tests between the two nations, a milestone that will inspire the cricketers, felt Lamb. "It doesn't get any bigger, or better, does it? It'll be a very special occasion. Playing at Lord's in general gets the best out of cricketers - this time it'll be even more special," he said.
"People in England have been writing about Sachin Tendulkar breaking his Lord's jinx (of scoring a hundred) well. he won't get a better time to do it, will he? Even if he doesn't get there, he shouldn't get disheartened. A lot of top players over the years haven't got a hundred at Lord's. I don't know why that is!
"Maybe just the occasion or the vibe, there's something about Lord's. It's something Sachin would love to achieve," said the 57-year old, who incidentally made his Test debut at Lord's - against India - in 1982. Lamb expected Graeme Swann to 'play a huge role' in the Tests - despite the reputation the World Champions carry of a side that handles spin bowling exceptionally well.
It was recently reported that India's next two tours to England (in 2014 and 2018) would comprise of five Tests each. Lamb is thrilled at the development. "That's wonderful news for Test cricket. I've actually wondered why we don't have enough five-match Test series like in the past. This is a good sign and proves that Test cricket is truly alive," he said.