England’s lack of batting class means India can complete double, says Dravid

Former India captain Rahul Dravid has backed his country to complete a home and away double over England this summer, highlighting the hosts’ lack of a world-class top order as the main factor.

The 48-year-old, who hit more than 13,000 runs in his 164 Tests, credits Joe Root’s team for their seam-bowling prowess, but says the captain is the only “great” player in the top seven, arguing that while Ben Stokes is a “good” allrounder, Ravi Ashwin is always capable of getting him out.

“I really do think India have a very good chance this time,” said Dravid, who anticipates a 3-2 India victory in the five-match series. “There’s no question about their [England’s] bowling. Whatever bowling attack England put on the park, especially their seam-bowling attack, is going to be fantastic. They have a lot of players to choose from.

“But if you look at their top six or top seven, you really think of one great batsman, a world-class batsman who is Joe Root. Obviously, Ben Stokes is another one, who is a good allrounder, but for some reason [R] Ashwin seems to do well against him.”

Dravid, who skippered India in 25 Tests between 2003 and 2007, gave his opinions on a webinar hosted by Live Aid India, a trust established to help those affected by the Covid pandemic.

England, who lost 3-1 in a trial by spin in India in the winter, have been convincing winners in India’s last three tours. In 2011, Dravid’s last trip to these shores, they triumphed 4-0, in 2014 they won 3-1 and in 2018 it was 4-1. In 2014, Virat Kohli struggled terribly against the moving ball, averaging only 13 in his 10 innings with a top score of 39, but by 2018, despite the final scoreline, the India captain struck almost 600 runs at an average of 59.90 with two hundreds and three fifties.

It is perhaps this that Dravid had in mind when he added: “A couple of players have been to England a few times, there’s a lot of experience in the batting order this time around, so this is probably our best chance, maybe say 3-2 to India. I just think India will be well-prepared, there’s a lot of belief in the squad.”

Their biggest problem may be maintaining interest during what might become interminable intra-squad games they will be forced to play as they wait for the real action to begin at Trent Bridge on August 4, having finished their World Test Championship final against New Zealand on June 22.

They had been due to play games two four-day games against India A, but those games were cancelled for logistical reasons because of the pandemic.

Some of those India A players are likely to be among the squad which travels to Sri Lanka for a white-ball series in July, a tour announced by the BCCI yesterday.