LONDON – Dale Steyn expects India to push England hard in their upcoming series of five Test matches but feels England have the edge in familiar conditions.
The first Test will start on August 1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Many experts agree that India, the No 1 Test team in the world, are in a good space to record a series win in England, especially with the hosts in the middle of a poor sequence of results in the format.
Steyn, who played only a bit role in the first Test when India toured South Africa earlier this year and lost 2-1, agreed with the point of view, saying that Virat Kohli’s India are “capable of anything”.
“Led by Virat, this Indian team is capable of anything. I know Virat pretty well. He’s quite a determined character. Five Test matches is going to be good for one team and if one team gets on a roll the other team will be blown away,” said Steyn at an event in Mumbai on Thursday.
England drew the home Test series against Pakistan 1-1 in May-June this year but had lost 1-0 away against New Zealand in March and 4-0 in the Ashes in Australia prior to that. But the ability of their pacers, especially James Anderson and Stuart Broad, could make a difference.
“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,” said Steyn, who has now caught up with Shaun Pollock at 421 wickets at the top of the list for South Africa.
“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’re going to rely on their fast bowlers. And if they don’t have them, then they’re in trouble.”
The last time England and India played Test cricket, India won 4-0. But that was in India in late 2016. But India have won a Test series in England only thrice – 1971, 1986 and 2007, and lost 3-1 the last time, in 2014.
“The advantage probably lies with England, obviously being at home and with such a long tour, it tends to become very long. India have been there for ODIs and are a very good touring team now. If I put my money, I will probably put it on England. But it is going to be tight,” Steyn said.
“These are conditions that England are used to. Home series generally goes away with home sides.”
Sticking to the theme of the Indians being better tourists than before, Steyn added, “They treated themselves 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.”
African News Agency (ANA)