Sanjay Manjrekar believes that Team India’s batting does not look strong enough in the absence of their star batter Virat Kohli’ for the first two Tests of the ongoing five-match home series against England. However, Kohli was initially named in India’s squad for the first two Tests but later he opted out of the matches citing personal reasons. While Manjrekar looked confident about Team India’s chances in home conditions, he added that the hosts might struggle in the batting department.
During a discussion on ESPNcricinfo, he said: “I think India should be able to dominate once again in home conditions. Just that batting part, with Virat Kohli not playing, has become a little bit of a question mark. I don’t think it is a gamble (preparing rank-turners). It is a very reliable way to win matches for India because of the kind of opposition that India have. England have Jack Leach and two or three other spinners; a couple of them haven’t played for England, and one of them has just played a Test match. When you look at the kind of ability England have, it’s a no-brainer that India would want to have pitches that will turn, especially with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, and Kuldeep Yadav being a spin force.”
The first Test between India and England kicked off at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday, January 25. England captain Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to bat first. During the discussion, Sanjay Manjrekar also backed India to continue their good run at home. He, however, did not deny the fact that England could post a tough fight, pointing out how they won a series on Indian soil in 2012-13 as well.
“I expect something similar that we have seen in the recent past: India dominating. I expect pitches to again suit spin, but you always have to leave allowance for something that we never expect. This constantly happens in our sport, where we think this is something that’s likely to happen and we’re very sure, and then a surprise comes along, like in 2013, when England surprised us through Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann. I think that is going to be the big question that will be answered: whether bazball is suitable in all conditions. It has worked in most conditions; it has worked in Asia as well, in Pakistan for England. But let’s find out in the kind of pitches that we have in India,” Sanjay Manjrekar concluded.