New Delhi, Jan 20: With the five-Test series between India and England starting on January 25 in Hyderabad, former India left-arm fast-bowler Zaheer Khan said he is keen to see if the visitors’ stick to their attacking approach of playing, dubbed as ‘Bazball’, in the sub-continental conditions.
India have emerged victorious in 16 consecutive Test series at home ever since they lost 2-1 to England in 2012. “You don’t often see a five-Test series taking place these days. Bazball will remain in focus, and we’ll see whether England’s approach will remain the same. The kind of pitches that we’ll be playing on will also be another point of discussion for sure. But both teams will be eager to prove their supremacy,” said Zaheer to JioCinema.
Pragyan Ojha, the former India left-arm spinner, believes the Bazball approach can’t work in India as its tough to implement it against a quality Indian spin line-up. “Bazball involves playing fearless cricket and England tries to gain a psychological edge using this strategy. Executing Bazball will be difficult in India because it won’t be easy to play the Indian spinners or for that matter Jasprit Bumrah and the other pace bowlers,” he said.
Though England won 3-0 over Pakistan in their backyard in 2022, Ojha wishes to see the Ben Stokes-led side have back-up plans ready if the Bazball approach backfires. “I feel England will be very confident with the strategy they have adopted. But they need a back-up plan. Because the conditions won’t be like what they were in Pakistan.”
“The wickets were slightly better and favoured the batsmen. Here, the conditions will favour the spinners. So how they tackle this will be very important. Their performance in the first Test will set the tone of the series.”
Parthiv Patel, the former India wicketkeeper-batter, believes India will go for a clean sweep to push their standing in the World Test Championship table and that England’s Bazball approach won’t work due to the spinning conditions. “I think the Indian team will aim for 5-0. I think they need a 4-0 win to get to the top of the WTC standings. Looking at the last cycle, India won a lot of overseas Tests. I don’t think India need to change their approach.”
“It’s the visiting teams that have to come up with different strategies. It remains to be seen whether Bazball will work here or not. If the ball spins, I don’t think it will work here because there’s too much quality in India’s spin attack that includes Ashwin, Jadeja, Axar and Kuldeep.”
The upcoming India-England Test series will begin from Hyderabad on January 25, followed by other matches at Visakhapatnam (February 2-6), Rajkot (February 15-19), Ranchi (February 23-27) and Dharamshala (March 7-11).
Patel also feels toss and first-innings runs will play a crucial role in the series. “I think every venue will have its own character. We may see similar tracks in Hyderabad and Vizag. In Rajkot, if they prepare a good wicket, we may see a lot of runs being scored.”
“Their fast bowlers can hope to get some help in Dharamsala. At every venue, how many runs they get in the first innings, will be crucial. Winning the toss too will be crucial for them. If they lose the toss, it will be very difficult for them to come back,” he concluded. (IANS)