Cricket pundit Sanjay Manjrekar rated India better than England when it comes to handling the pressure in the ground. The two teams are set to clash in the first Test of the 5-match series on August 1 and pressure is definitely going to be a major factor in the series.
India is looking for an overseas Test series victory but they have lost two key bowlers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah before the first game to injurises. "I wish everyone was fit; it would have made for a great series. But with all these injury setbacks for India, England start as favorites.
"Still, don't rule India out, because if it gets tight, this Indian team has the capability to come out trumps. For when it comes to handling pressure, temperamentally this team, led and inspired by [Virat] Kohli, is far superior to the hosts. Temperamentally this is one of the best teams India have ever had. We saw evidence of that in their last Test, against South Africa at the Wanderers earlier this year," Manjrekar wrote in his column for ESPNCricinfo.
The former India batsman thinks Bumrah missing the first Test could be a major blow for the Indian side. "Bumrah being unavailable is a massive setback for India. Yes, there is Mohammed Shami, who has the knack of turning the tide by suddenly getting three wickets in one spell. He is still the most gifted of all the current Indian seamers but he is a bit of a "blow hot, blow cold" kind of bowler, which does not help.
"India's bowling, if all their bowlers were fit, was going to be their strength on this England tour, a rare instance indeed where India's bowling was going to outweigh their batting."
Manjrekar went on to compare the current Indian batting strength with the 90s. "Speaking of India's batting overseas, in South Africa, England, and Australia, it is now a bit like it was in the '90s, dependent very much on one man. It was Sachin Tendulkar then, it's Virat Kohli now," Manjrekar wrote.
KL Rahul had a decent performance in the warm-up game against Essex. Manjrekar feels he is suitable for the overseas games and deserves opportunities.
"On their last big stretch of overseas trips, from 2013 through 2015, India's batting was more rounded, with M Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane being a great support cast to Kohli. Since then both Rahane and Vijay have dropped a few notches as batsmen, while Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan have never been a force as batsmen overseas like they are in home conditions; in fact, both have lost their places in the playing XI during overseas series.
"That's why I believe KL Rahul has to be given all the support and opportunities possible, for he is potentially India's next successful overseas batsman to partner Kohli with the bat. Dropping him in the final ODI in England was a big mistake for this very reason," he added.