Bumrah’s India ready to face England 2.0 in Edgbaston Test

Nine months have passed since then with former skipper Virat Kohli relinquishing Test captaincy. His successor, Rohit Sharma, is missing out on this match after testing positive for Covid-19.
England team coach Brendon McCullum is all smiles on the eve of the Test against India
England team coach Brendon McCullum is all smiles on the eve of the Test against India

BIRMINGHAM: Never before has he navigated the choppy waters of leadership but Jasprit Bumrah will certainly like to showcase his captaincy acumen while leading a slightly under-prepared India against a vastly improved England in the rescheduled fifth Test, starting here on Friday.

India was leading the five-match series 2-1 when multiple Covid-19 cases in its camp led to the postponement of the final match which was a part of the World Test Championship.

Nine months have passed since then with former skipper Virat Kohli relinquishing Test captaincy. His successor, Rohit Sharma, is missing out on this match after testing positive for Covid-19.

Worse, Rohit’s designated deputy KL Rahul is also out after having undergone a surgery for sports hernia.

In this backdrop of musical chair of Indian captaincy, the gauntlet has been thrown at Bumrah, arguably one of the finest fast bowlers in the history of Indian cricket and now set to be the 36th man to lead the national Test team.

But leadership is an instinctive thing – some are blessed with that sixth sense and intuition, some are born gamblers and some become better as they grow on the job.

New England, new template

The 3-0 demolition of New Zealand with three tricky chases completed in style has shown that England, under new coach Brendon McCullum, has de-constructed its style-sheet as far as Test matches are concerned.

Its batters are plundering the opposition attack while there are lesser number of five-wicket hauls from the pacers if one goes by the statistics of the New Zealand series.

It was Jack Leach, who had two five-wicket hauls, and neither James Anderson nor Stuart Broad got their names on the various ‘Honours’ Board’.

The pitches have become a tad flatter, which is helping the batters and thus Bumrah, along with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj, will have an onerous task of tackling a line-up bubbling with confidence.

Team combination a worry for India

India will have to bat well in the absence of regular opening pair of Rohit and Rahul, who were fantastic during the four Tests played last year.

Coach Rahul Dravid expects a match-winning performance if not a hundred from Virat Kohli, who looked good in the practice game. But, the Test match will be a different beast altogether.

Anderson’s magical wrists can still make the ball dart around and it will be a different experience for opening batter Shubman Gill.

It remains to be seen who will be India’s bowling all-rounder. Will it be Ravichandran Ashwin, who is not an automatic choice in overseas conditions or Shardul Thakur, who has not done his chances any harm with some big-hearted efforts in the SENA countries.

Edgbaston has not exactly been a happy hunting ground for India where it has lost most of its Test matches. But as it often happens with new beginnings, a new captain can always try to buck the trend.

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