Finally, a series that knows how to build dramatic tension. T20s then ODIs then Tests is the way it should be – we've had the Kuldeep Yadav narrative, the birth of a potential rivalry between Joe Root and Hardik Pandya (if Pandya was deliberately bowling wides to deny Root a hundred at Headingley, that's pretty classless). And now a five-Test series. Here, in the first of two articles, the Guerilla experts give you the lowdown on how it will (*might) go.
Guerilla Cricket commentator and Guerilla IPL chief-of-staff
- England to win at Edgbaston. Root 150.
- India to level the series at Lord's. Rahane 100; Buttler and Leach rearguard fails to make up for top order failings.
- Run-fest draw at Trent Bridge. Kohli 150; Stokes 120 on day release.
- England to out-spin India at Southampton; Moeen 4-for; Buttler 75 off 50. People are for some reason surprised.
- England to collapse horribly in the first innings at the Oval after Rishabh Pant scores a whirlwind debut century. Hardik Pandya takes three wickets with long-hops. England fight bravely but in vain to save the Test.
Final result: 2-2. Kohli can't decide whether to be triumphalist or livid, settles for both. Neither side will have been unchanged from one Test to the next.
Moeen Ali. Moeen's had a fantastic record in England, did well in the ODIs, and has a knack of making good players make terrible decisions against him. With the dry weather, and with Chris Woakes still returning to full fitness and Ben Stokes missing the second Test due to his court appearance, Moeen could yet have a big impact on the series even though he will not play in his hometown of Birmingham.INDIA
KL Rahul. Glorious stylist, quality pointy beard, capable of big hundreds, and if India's top three turn up and provide a platform for the middle order, that will go a long way towards India improving on their fighting 2-1 series defeat on the trampolines of South Africa.
Dawid Malan. File under 'I like him, but...' His returns have been steadily diminishing since that hundred in Perth, and with thoughts of two spinners, Moeen growing in confidence and Stokes and Woakes hovering, Malan's twin fifties against India A may have given him one final chance.INDIA
Cheteshwar Pujara. Solid. Stickable. Gets bowled an alarming amount for a top-order batsman (21% of Test dismissals, against 16% average for top 6 batsmen since Pujara debuted). Averages 27.31 in Tests outside Asia. Averages 19.28 in Tests in 2018. Averaged 14.33 very slowly in his six games for Yorkshire this year with no fifties...Gulp.
Guerilla Cricket commentator and maturing Men With Ven rock star
Virat Kohli is committed to the The Nightingale Psychiatric Hospital in Lisson Grove after his traumatic experience at the hands of England bowler James Michael Anderson. He is diagnosed with with Post Traumatic Swing Disorder shortly after the 4th Test in Southampton where, during the press conference, he is heard muttering: "Outtie, outtie, innie, green top, outtie, innie, cloudy, cloudy, innie, outtie."
By a strange twist of fate, Kohli finds himself in the same therapy group as ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott who tells him: "Back in my day, uncovered wickets, one day rubbish, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, Ray Illingworth, corridor of uncertainty, rubbish total rubbish"
Final result: 3-0 England
James Michael Anderson.INDIA
Geoff Boycott/Ray IllingworthENGLAND
Guerilla Cricket commentator, double-bass player and professional Irishman
India go 2-0 up and the whole country fears a brown (outfield) wash. Kohli, Shikhar, Rahul all filling their boots. Rooty does an anterior cruciate angrily slapping his bat against his pad after his fourth consecutive bowled-round-his-legs-sweeping for 51. Enter captain Jos.
His daddy double-hundy at Trenters secures a draw. Then the Bess-Leach-Virdi-Moeen quartet gets amongst them. Vince's 159 at the Oval is the crowning moment of an unforgettable summer.
Final result: 2-2
Jos Buttler and Amir VirdiINDIA
Joe Root. Loses captaincy mid-series. Has to pick up the mic.INDIA
Guerilla Cricket commentator, former ECB strategist (yes, really) and The Straight Hit blogger
England have their tails up. The woes of Australia, New Zealand and the first Pakistan Test have been largely forgotten. We are now excelling at two formats that are so very un-English. It's coming home. Sun's out, guns out. Brexit is coming off the rails. We have a Trump balloon. Times are good.
Which is why we are going to get shat on by India. Passing the winter off as a blip after beating up on the Windies last summer is ridiculous. If the weather holds, their bats will have a field day. England will be forced to field at least 16 players
Final result 3-1 to India.
Joe Root. Desperate to end his bout of hundred-itis, he is spurred on perhaps by channeling his emotion from his axing from the T20 team.INDIA
Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Unable to swing the ball, castle Cook and embarrass the other hapless opener(s) due to injury, he exerts subtle control over the England order from the sidelines through the power of his beautiful eyes.
Stuart Broad. The time is nigh for a fits-and-starts player who punctuates mediocrity with 7-for and 8-for spells that cause middle-aged cricket fans to develop unseemly man-crushes on him. His end is as sudden as it was for Matthew Hoggard ten years ago.INDIA
Virat Kohli. Wishful thinking maybe, but if you research cricketers' personal websites you will find he is a prick. An even bigger one than Shane Watson.
Guerilla Cricket commentator and Alan Mullally's favourite landlord
India might have lost seven of the last nine Tests over here but I really fear for England in this series because of the heatwave, which will meaning a dearth of greentops. I fancy India will thrive in the conditions and I think we could be in for some long days commentating as India pile on the runs.
Final result: 4-1 to India.
Adil Rashid/Moeen Ali. Whoever is given the nod to be the main spinner.INDIA
Virat Kohli. More in terms of his captaincy than with the bat. As we know England are prone to a collapse or two and, with a baking sun helping to break up the pitches, he will use his spinners to punish the home team.
Adil Rashid. If he flops expect Dom Bess and/or Jack Leach to get a go later in the series.
Guerilla Cricket commentator and BBC economics journalist
Cricket's coming home. But to whose home? Cricket was born in England but it has been truly brought to life in India. This is a chance for India to show the world they can win overseas while England need to show they are still a threat in this form of the game after losing in India, being humiliated in Australia and struggling against a Misbah-less Pakistan.
A draw might suit everyone involved but life isn't always so neat. Although sublime on its day, India's batting is their weakness and Pujara and Rahul will struggle. Root is going into the Tests with some form for England and Moeen Ali, who enjoys playing at home, should be selected. Man of the series will be the weather, the hot and dry conditions reducing the potency of India's seamers but not enough to bring Ashwin into the game.
Final result: 3-1 to England
Joe Root. Once he scores another Test hundred the floodgates will open and the runs will flowENGLAND
Virat Kohli. His pure will and determination will win them a Test and run England in the others.
James Vince. England will be fine so long as theY don't pick him.INDIA
Ashwin/Jadeja. Keeping them together will come back to haunt India with neither having delivered away from home.