South Africa star Dale Steyn feels home-advantage will give England an upper hand in the upcoming five-Test series against India.
England’s Test fortunes have been anything but impressive in recent times. They are yet to win a series in their last three attempts. The Three Lions lost the Ashes 4-0, before losing the series in England.
Joe Root and his men had the chance to get back to winning ways when they hosted Pakistan in May. However, they could only manage to draw the series 1-1.
On the other hand, India has been the most dominant side in the world for quite some time now. Barring the defeat in South Africa earlier this year, the Virat Kohli-led side has done exceedingly well.
India thrashed every team that visited them in the last couple of years including England. They also registered impressive series wins in Windies and Sri Lanka.
Currently sitting at the top of the Test rankings, the team won nine consecutive Test series. The winning run came to an end earlier this year when South Africa beat India 2-1.
Going by recent form, India would definitely start as the favourites. However, Steyn said he would back England because of their familiarity with the conditions.
“I don’t like any predictions. The advantage probably lies with England, obviously being at home and with such a long tour. It tends to become very long. They have been there for ODIs and are a very good touring team now. (But) if I put my money, I will probably put it on England,” he told reporters at a promotional event for ‘GoPro’.
“Led by Virat this Indian team is capable of anything. I know Virat pretty well; he’s quite a determined character. Five Test matches are going to be good for one team and if one team gets on a roll the other team will be blown away.
“But) it’s going to be a hard-fought Test series. The England bowlers are a little bit more skilled and that’s where the difference will be, that will be the tipping point,” he added.
At the same time, Dale Steyn did not rule India out of contention to win the Tests. Citing their fighting performance in South Africa this year, he said the visitors could do well in England too.
“If the ball swings they (England seamers) are going to play a massive role but if it doesn’t swing then how are they going to get someone like Kohli or Shikhar (Dhawan), who opens the batting, and K L Rahul? They played well in South Africa, which I consider is the hardest place to play cricket. They came to South Africa and just got better. It could be true in England too,” he said.
The veteran pacer also opined that with the Indian attack likely to miss Jasprit Bumrah (for the first Test) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (for at least the first three), things will not be easy for them. Bumrah is yet to recover fully from a thumb injury.
On the other hand, Bhuvneshwar has returned to India to treat a back injury.
“India do rely heavily on their spinners and they do a great job in one-day cricket. At the moment the wickets are pretty flat (in England) and there hasn’t been a lot of turn, especially in the four-dayers in county cricket. So they are going to rely on their fast bowlers. And if they don’t have them, then they are in trouble,” said Steyn.
The five-Test series gets underway on August 1 in Birmingham.