Former England captains Alastair Cook and Michael Vaughan predicted contrasting results of the upcoming India-England five-Test series. The Virat Kohli-led Indian side will take on Joe Root’s England in the first Test on Wednesday at Trent Bridge in Nottingham in what will also mark the beginning of the second cycle of the World Test Championship.
Ahead of the series opener, Cook predicted an England victory while quickly adding that he would have been more confident had all-rounder Ben Stokes been available.
“I would be more confident with Ben Stokes in the England side, so that changes it a lot. But with India being on tour and in the bubble situation for so long – they arrived in early June for the World Test Championship final – they will find it quite hard,” Cook told BBC.
Stokes took an indefinite break from cricket citing mental health issues, which practically ruled him out of the five-match Test series.
Cook said England will win the series on the back of scoring big. “Given the moving ball, England will always fancy their chances against this India batting line-up. I think England will score just enough runs and win the series, with one of the Tests heavily affected by rain,” he added.
Cook’s Prediction: England 3-1 India.
Another former England captain Michael Vaughan, however, predicted an exact opposite scoreline. Vaughan said India have their best chances of winning a Test series England in 14 years in the absence of Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes.
“I don’t like saying this, but India have got the best chance that they will ever have of winning in the UK. There’s no Ben Stokes, no Jofra Archer and no Chris Woakes to start,” said Vaughan.
Both Archer and Woakes are not in England squad for the first two Tests and the duo are unlikely to feature in the latter half of the series too.
Vaughan said India’s power-packed batting line-up backed by an equally talented bowling unit will give them the advantage.
“England’s Test team has been, if not in turmoil, then a little stop-start for the past year or so. And after the series defeat by New Zealand there are a lot of players under pressure.
“India have got a powerhouse of a batting line-up, an incredible bowling line-up with all the variations,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan’s Prediction: England 1-3 India.
India, meanwhile, are battling their own injury concerns. After Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar and Avesh Khan were ruled out even before the start of the series, opener Mayank Agarwal was declared unfit for the first Test after suffering a blow on the back of his head during a practice session on Monday.