Virat Kohli & Cheteshwar Pujara's Form Will be Key to India's Chances in England, Feel Sourav Ganguly & Virender Sehwag

Published - 02 Jul 2018, 02:04 PM | Updated - 10 Jan 2019, 01:36 AM

Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara key for Test in England. Credits: AFP

Former India stalwarts Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag predicted India’s chances in England and spoke on Virat Kohli’s performance in conditions where he flopped four years ago.

India will play a full-fledged series against England, starting with the T20I series on Tuesday (July 3). The in-form team will be looking to put an end to India’s recent miseries in England.

In 2011, India had gone to England as world number one Test side. However, the rankings and reputation made little difference, as Andrew Strauss & Co. had inflicted a humiliating 4-0 defeat upon the then MS Dhoni-led side. The fortunes remained the same in limited-overs format too.

England won the one-off Twenty20 International and the five-match One-day International series 3-0, as India left England empty-handed.

Three years later, the margin of the defeat decreased, but there was no end to India’s misery, as England thrashed them 3-1 in the Test series. India finally had something to laugh about as they won the ODI series 3-1 before losing the One-off T20I.

However, Sehwag opined India would come out on top in the upcoming five-match Test series.

“3-2 or 3-1 in the favour of India,” Sehwag told India TV.

Ganguly, however, gave a different opinion, saying,

“It won’t be that easy. I don’t predict much, but if India plays well, it will be some fantastic cricket to witness if they play well.”

The former India skipper went on to say Kohli would leave his mark in the series. Four years ago during the tour of 2014, Kohli had failed miserably.

He had managed only 134 runs in ten innings. However, he has come a long way since then, and Ganguly believes the current skipper would do well this time around.

“For me, the series belongs to Virat Kohli,” Ganguly said.

Credits: BCCI

But Sehwag rated Cheteshwar Pujara over Kohli, claiming the County experience will help him more than any other batsman in England.

“I think it will be Pujara who will score the most runs. He’s been playing County cricket for over 2-3 years now and must be having a fair idea,” said Sehwag.

Credits: BCCI

Talking about the opening pair, both the veterans were on the same page for Murali Vijay. However, they came up with different options when it came to who should open with Vijay.

While Sehwag backed his former state teammate, Shikhar Dhawan, Ganguly said India should give a chance to KL Rahul.

“Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan should open for India because they’re performing well together. The criteria to keep a player and drop a person should be applied for each player. Dada may not agree with me as he wants the in-form players to keep playing,” Sehwag said.

Credits: BCCI

Ganguly, on the other hand, justified his point by pointing out Dhawan’s poor overseas record.

“Look, Kohli has travelled all over the world and has scored runs. But Dhawan has not yet scored a century neither big runs in the Tests he has played abroad. He can smash in the sub-continent, but not outside. That’s why after every one or two Tests, he is dropped. But if you look at KL Rahul, in Sydney Australia he has a hundred, in Barbados West Indies he has a hundred. He’s been in and out of the team, but I think, KL Rahul and Murali Vijay should open,” he said.

Ganguly went on to say India can win the Test series only if Kohli scores heavily.

“India will win the Test series if Virat Kohli scores runs. If he doesn’t, it will be a huge gap in the team. Pujara has struggled quite a bit as well in Tests despite doing well in County. Murali can hit all over the place such as South Africa and Australia. For me, Kohli, Murali and Ajinkya Rahane can make the difference cause they have scored runs. Pujara’s form outside is less than average. I’m not saying he is a bad cricketer, but it’s time where everyone contributes,” he added.

The five-test series gets underway on August 1.