HYDERABAD: India clash with England in the first of a high-profile five-match series starting in Hyderabad on Thursday. AFP Sport looks at three key battles that could shape the series.

Rohit v Anderson

The face-off between skipper Rohit Sharma and James Anderson will be a key battle with the swashbuckling opening batsman up against the veteran fast bowler.

Rohit has scored 713 runs against England in the last eight Tests since he turned opener and has often faced Anderson’s hostile opening spells bravely.

His match-winning 127 in the second innings of the Oval Test in 2021 stands out when he bossed the England bowling, which had Anderson sharing the new ball with Ollie Robinson.

Earlier in the series, Rohit’s 83 in the first innings at Lord’s proved key but Anderson denied the batsman his century to cut short the damage.

Anderson has dismissed Rohit twice in Tests, but the 41-year-old pace bowler would like to improve the count as he approaches a milestone of 700 wickets.

Root v Ashwin & Jadeja

Joe Root’s form will remain key to England’s success in the series. His ability to handle India’s spinners, especially Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, could play a huge part.

Root, who has mastered the audacious reverse sweep to get runs against spinners, topped the series batting chart with 368 runs including one century when England last toured India for four Tests in 2021 and lost 3-1.

Ashwin, an off-spinner, twice got Root out in eight innings and the England batsman fell to Axar Patel’s left-arm spin three times on turning pitches.

Jadeja dismissed Root three times in 2016.

The spin threat looms large again for the touring batsmen and Root, 33, with over 11,000 Test runs at an average of over 50, looks to inspire his fellow batters.

Crawley v Bumrah

Well begun is half done, and England would expect top-order batsman Zak Crawley to give the team solid starts against Indian quicks on pitches, which may get tough to bat on as the innings progresses.

Crawley shined as an opener during last year’s Ashes, when he topped England’s batting with 480 runs – including a ton against an Australian attack led by Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

But in 2021-22 Crawley had a forgettable series against India.

He fell to Jasprit Bumrah twice in Birmingham and once in Nottingham in the two Tests he played.

Bumrah, a yorker specialist with a slingshot action and 140 Test wickets, leads the pace attack alongside Mohammed Siraj in the absence of the injured Mohammed Shami.

He will look to provide India with early breakthroughs to open the doors for the spinners to take charge later.


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