Leicester: With an aim to bury the ghosts of a disastrous tour of 2011, a new-look Indian team would be eyeing a positive start to their two-and-a-half-month long tour of England when they take on Leicestershire in a three-day game, starting here Thursday.
The visitors, led by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, reached London last weekend ahead of what will be a gruelling tour, including five back-to-back Tests, five ODIs and one T20 International.
India failed to register a single win on their last tour having lost the Test series 0-4, the five-match ODI series 0-3 and also the lone T20 International.
India suffered the humiliation last time in 2011 despite being equipped with seasoned campaigners like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Virender Sehwag. But with all of them missing this time, the onus will be on youngsters like Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara to hold fort.
Team India sneaked into the country almost unnoticed with most people either mesmerised by the ongoing Fifa World Cup in Brazil despite England’s poor showing there, or pre-occupied with their cricket team’s first-ever home series loss to Sri Lanka. England’s series loss to Sri Lanka bodes well for Dhoni and his young squad and the hosts will be low on confidence going into the series.
The bigger comparison to the previous tour though lies in this well-planned run-in to the first Test at Nottingham on July 9. Not only do they practice here, but the Indians will also play Derbyshire in another three-day practice match (July 1-3) before finally heading to Trent Bridge.
That means India will spend a fortnight in England before they turn their attention to the first Test.
Additionally, a majority of the players of this squad have been given time off after IPL 7 and they will be well rested after a long season that included tours to South Africa and New Zealand.
The common thread between those two tours was India’s inability to win a single Test match as also the fact that they were very short trips, allowing very few opportunities to change combinations.
With two practice matches to start off a five-Test tour, the Indian team management will have six days of cricket as evidence when picking their XI for the first Test in Nottingham.
Match starts: 3.30 (IST).