There's been a lot of water under the bridge since the Oval test last summer where India registered a clinical win and went up 2-1 in the series. Sydney, Gabba, Lords, Oval, Centurion all in a single year. This was no less than a dream for a team that has only experienced whitewashes and heartbreaks on overseas tours since 2011. Since the controversial cancellation of the 5th test in Manchester, things have gone south for Indian cricket. India crashed out of WT20, Kohli's ouster as ODI captain, SA series loss and then Kohli resigning as the test captain. On the other hand, things weren't going well for England as well. They received a yet another 4-0 drubbing in the Ashes and a 1-0 loss in the Carrebean until they whitewashed NZ 3-0 at home this summer with a completerly different brand of cricket under the new coach and captain.
Its more like a fresh start tomorrow. Only once have India won the 1st test of the series in England (Lords 1986) and they have never won at Edgbaston. To make things worse, they'll be without their best 2 batters of the series. KL Rahul suffered a groin injury whereas Rohit Sharma was down with Covid. There is a good chance we might see Pujara open with Gill or who knows KS Bharat might be the surprise pick. Another decision that would be interesting to see with what combination does Team India go with. 4 seam bowlers + Jadeja which was their tried and tested formula last year or they include Ashwin in place of Thakur.
Skipper Ben Stokes has made his intentions clear that they'll be playing India with the same style of aggresive cricket which they adopted against NZ. Eng too have a few chinks in their armour. Zak Crawley has only 2 good innings in 16 outings this year. In all 3 tests against NZ they were found wanting after a poor start but runs down the order from Bairstow managed to save them. The ENG seam attack looked toothless whenever the ball went soft. This was evident from the Blundell - Mitchell partnerships where England had to toil to get their wickets.
Also, this is probably the last time Anderson and Kohli will play each other in whites.
Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (C), Sam Billings(WK), Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson
Shubhman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant(WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (C), Mohammad Siraj
Total matches - 53
Matches won batting first - 18
Matches won bowling first - 20
Average 1st Inns scores - 307
Average 2nd Inns scores - 320
Average 3rd Inns scores - 244
Average 4th Inns scores - 152
Highest total recorded - 710/7 by ENG v IND
Lowest total recorded - 30/10 by RSA vs ENG
Head to Head
Overall: Eng leads 49 - 31
In Eng: Eng leads 35 - 9
In Ind: Ind leads 22- 14
Last 5 tests
Kohli v Anderson: 297/7
Kohli v Broad: 182/5
Kohli v Stokes: 222/5
Root v Bumrah:194/6
Root v Jadeja: 400/5
Root v Siraj: 176/1
Stokes v Jadeja: 72/4
Stokes v Shami: 122/2
Bairstow v Bumrah: 17/3
Bairstow v Shami: 131/5
Bairstow v Siraj: 60/4
(last 5 innings)
Key players and Fantasy Picks
Joe Root: The ICC test cricketer of the year had one of the greatest calender years a batter could wish for. He has ammassed 2462 runs since 2021 with an average of 57 and breaking the all-time record of Sir Vivian Richards with most top-scores for the team in a calendar year. What makes his achievement even more special is the 2nd highest run scorer in the side was Rory Burns with 550 odd runs. There was a staggering difference between the 1st and the 2nd best batter.
Jonny Bairstow: He became only the 2nd ever Eng batter in the century to score 4 100s batting at 5 or below in test cricket in a calendar year.
He scored 394 runs at a whooping SR of 120 in the series against NZ. Almost every Indian bowler has a good H2H record against him in tests and it would be interesting to see his new found approach against them.
Jasprit Bumrah: The new stand in captain was influential in the last 2 wins at Lords and Oval with his fiery bowling spells in the 2nd last and last sessions. Bumrah has been arguably India's best ever fast bowler in SENA conditions and he has seldom dissapointed in an overseas test.
He has taken 32 wickets at an average of 23.
(Fantasy rating - 8/8.5 points )
Ollie Pope: He had a disastrous run after his Port Elizabeth 100 in 2020 but England have trusted him with new position in the line up at 3 and he has given good returns so far with a 145 at Nottingham and 82 at Headingly
Ravindra Jadeja: They say Edgbaston is the most spin friendly wicket in England and by the looks of it Jadeja might have a huge role to play to hold one end. His batting is a bonus, since 2018, he has been averaging over 40 with the bat and played a scintillating knock of 175 at Mohali this year when team India was in a spot of bother at 230-5.