The first Test between the two sides gets underway on August 1 at Edgbaston with India announcing their 18-man squad for the first three matches on Wednesday.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated series between the two heavyweights, Ashwin has expressed his confidence in taking on the challenge.
“It’s a lovely place and I enjoy going to England and playing cricket there. For me it’s about going there, understanding the situation. We are a good team. It’s all about responding to situations thrown at us,” the India man was quoted as saying by the ICC.
The 33-year-old has previously played county cricket for Worcestershire and although there were reports that he might prepare for the tour with another stint in England’s domestic competition, Ashwin ultimately gave it a miss and chose to play the one-off Test against Afghanistan instead.
Kohli’s men will take on Essex in a four-day match at Chelmsford starting on July 25 in what will be their sole warm-up game ahead of the Test series. Despite that, Ashwin feels India are well-prepared for what will be a long a grueling series.
“Sometimes I feel we over-cook, over-prepare ourselves. It is important to stay in the moment and react to it. It will be crucial on how early we acclimatize in the series. Once we do that it’s all about reacting to situation and having that belief that you can retaliate at any point because it’s a long Test series. We are going to commit mistakes and so will the home team. I want to use my experience that I have played Test cricket for and try to make it to best use,” he explained.
Saha had earlier been sidelined with a thumb injury he sustained in the IPL while playing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad and subsequently missed the one-off Test against Afghanistan.
According to a report by the DNA, the Bengal wicketkeeper has been carrying a shoulder injury for a few months now and it was aggravated during his recent rehabilitation stint at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
“This is a bizarre case where none of the selectors were aware of the real cause of his (Saha) injury when the team was picked for the first three Tests,” a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by DNA.
“He has a serious shoulder injury and whether or not he needs a surgery would be decided in a week’s time after a few more medical scans,” the official added.
The wicketkeeper’s injury woes have come to the surface of late with various reports laying the blame on the NCA’s doorsteps. For a long time it was believed that Saha was recuperating from his thumb injury, with the news about his shoulder only emerging days before the selection of India’s Test squad.
Saha’s team has taken to Twitter in light of the recent speculation.
“Yes! Wriddhi is physically unwell and may not be there in the upcoming England Test series. We are going through a bad phase and crisis, ” a statement read on the social media site.
“Thanks to all the fans, well wishers and people who are there beside us during the time of injury. Injury is not in anyone’s hand and to the people who are making astrological conclusions right now regarding his future cricket, (we) would suggest, learn to wish (for) someone’s recovery (rather) than predicting future!
“Have some respect for someone who has got injured playing for the country.”
One-day international and Test cricket might be worlds apart but there is no doubt England go into the first match of the upcoming five-game Test series, beginning at Edgbaston on August 1, with far greater momentum and confidence.
Morale-boosting, back-to-back ODI victories to clinch a 2-1 series victory against India showed just why the Three Lions are the number one-ranked side in the format.
Evident on Tuesday at Headingley was steely determination, the kind of substance that will be needed if England are to win a World Cup on home soil and finally break that duck in less than 12 months’ time.
Individually, Joe Root, the man who will of course lead England in the Test format in the second half of the British summer, should reap the benefits of having rediscovered his best form and eloquence at the crease.
The boost of consecutive, unbeaten ODI hundreds can be carried over into the game’s longest format as England look to make their recent record – six defeats in eight Tests under Root’s captaincy – a thing of the past.
On the other end of the spectrum, India’s all-format skipper and hero Virat Kohli has some job to do to lift the spirits of his team.
He admitted his charges just weren’t at the races for what was a winner-takes-all ODI clash when they should have been.
The 29-year-old Kohli, who was victim of a Shane Warne v Mike Gatting ‘Ball of the Century’ moment courtesy of England’s Adil Rashid, has looked a class apart but after falling again to spin, on 71, he has shown unusual frailties against pace off the ball and left a trail of getting out when well set and not reaching three figures. Very unlike him.
That disappointment won’t hurt as much as India’s no show in Yorkshire.
Poor fielding and dropped catches lathered unwelcome icing on a cake which already included limp batting and bowling efforts.
Keeping the standards high, the bar well set and everything in sync is no mean feat as the wheels can go off a lengthy cricket tour pretty quickly. You sense though that will not happen under Kohli’s watch.
Kuldeep Yadav’s leg-spin has not featured for India in Tests since August 2017 but his wait is set to be over after being included in the squad on Wednesday. The 23-year-old has the ability to bowl wrong’uns against left-handers in what will be an England Test line-up featuring plenty of them: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes.
A return of 0-55 in the finale will probably work against him as well as being an indicator that Root, undoubtedly England’s key Test player, grabbed some kind of handle on his deliveries. Kohli seemed to agree and will likely trust his instincts and employ the experience of Ravi Ashwin for the Tests.
Yadav’s inclusion, exciting a prospect as he is, could come in the role as a second spinner and in that case it will be a straight shootout between him and Ravindra Jadeja – the man who cooked up in a storm with James Anderson the last time the subcontinent giants toured England back in 2014.
TEAM NEWS: #TeamIndia for the first three Tests against England announced #ENGvIND. Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the 3rd ODI. His condition is being assessed & a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon. pic.twitter.com/lhlF65VRUP— BCCI (@BCCI) July 18, 2018
However, he is somewhat undercooked this time having not featured since the one-off Test against Afghanistan in June. Jadeja will have to make good use of any limited warm-up preparation.
A greater concern will be Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s form, with the 28-year-old pacer enduring a tough tour in limited-overs cricket in Ireland and England – claiming just one wicket in three T20s and one ODI – and now struggling with injury. He struggled with the new ball, so it perhaps heightens the importance of the reliable Mohammed Shami and possibly Ishant Sharma, who has enjoyed a county spell with Sussex over the English summer.
Most crucially, India need a fit and firing Jasprit Bumrah at their disposal but there is serious concern the 24-year-old seamer will be touch and go having missed the 50-over matches due to surgery on a broken thumb. He adds that extra bit of pace and surprise factor India will need. Kohli himself has a point to prove in England while KL Rahul has everything at his disposal to have a good series as does Rohit Sharma.
The form of Shikhar Dhawan is an issue but India need to dust themselves down from this series defeat, think back to what they done well in the IT20s and make sure they are fired up as much as possible for what is going to be an intriguing Test spectacle.