The last time England toured India (in 2012) for a Test series it was billed as a revenge series after India had plummeted to lowly depths of a 0-4 loss in England just months prior to the beginning of that series. England, then, grounded India into dust at their home with Cook, Trott and Pietersen playing the key roles in negating India's spin threat. England came unscathed with a 2-1 victory against a strong Indian side in their own backyard. India visited England again in 2014 and were bashed comprehensively once again with Kohli having a horrid tour as India capitulated against both the swing of Anderson and the guile of an unsuspecting Moeen Ali. England were victorious again by a 3-1 margin.
So much for a brief history between these two sides and more look ahead to what promises to be a mouth watering clash of 5 tests between India and England. While India are coming off a convincing win over the Kiwi's in which Ashwin and Jadeja played key roles, the English are coming off a loss to Bangladesh where they had a tough time negotiating the Bangla spinners.
This series is definitely going to be defined by how the English batsmen can cope with the dual threat posed by Ashwin and Jadeja and in Cook, Root, Bairstow and Stokes they do possess the batsmen who can take it to the Indian spinners. I also feel that England would be better served by dropping Gary Ballance and playing the dynamic Jos Buttler as Buttler is a much better player of spin bowling having played in the IPL in India. A left field choice can also be Sam Billings, who in my opinion uses his feet brilliantly and can slot in the crucial number 4 position.
Coming to the English bowling combination; with Anderson out at least for the first test, England can go in with Woakes, Broad, Stokes, Moeen and Adil Rashid. Root will also have to roll his arm over on a regular basis if the main bowlers fail to make an impact. The cooler conditions that will prevail in India in November and December should certainly help their fast bowlers in the morning session and also to stay fresher for longer periods of time. They also exploited reverse swing brilliantly in Bangladesh and will be looking forward to getting some of that in India as well.
India on the other hand looks quite a settled side apart from the opening position where quite a few of their first choice openers are injured but in Vijay and Gambhir, India has two brilliant openers with excellent records behind them. Indian bowling should feature two spinners and two fast bowlers but they might go in with three spinners if the conditions demand the same. Hardik Pandya might get a debut as he has improved greatly since he first began and he will hope that he can bag his chances and create an impact straightaway.
This will be series that will certainly show where these two teams are placed right now and there are a lot of questions that will probably be answered by the time dust settles on this long 5 match series. Will India retain its number 1 position in Test Cricket? Can Cook and co plot India's downfall in India for a second time running? Is Ashwin really as good as his figures up until now suggest? I am really looking forward to this series but not with a tag line of #ScoreToSettle; just sit back and relax and enjoy good cricket between 2 good and improving young sides!!