England have not had it easy in India in recent years - can Alastair Cook's men reverse the trend this time around?
Another tour that was dogged by issues before the plane had left English soil. Injuries sidelined regular skipper Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles as the Test team that secured the Ashes from Australia's grasp on home soil the previous summer began to fall apart. To make matters even worse, Marcus Trescothick, the man named to lead the side in Vaughan's continued absence, pulled out of the tour for personal reasons. Instead it was left to Andrew Flintoff to take charge and a certain Alastair Cook was summoned from a Lions tour in the Caribbean to open the batting. The left-hander made 60 in his first dig and then registered a ton on Test debut second time around, helping the tourists have the better of a draw. Captain Flintoff led from the front in Mohali, making 70 with the bat and then taking 4-96, but England collapsed in their second innings to 181 all out to set their opponents just 144, a target Virender Sehwag rushed them towards. When Cook was ruled out of the final Test due to sickness, England must've feared the worst. Yet Owais Shah came into the team and, along with Middlesex team-mate Andrew Strauss (128), helped the visitors amass 400 after strangely being put into bat by Rahul Dravid. Although they threatened to waste a three-figure first-innings lead by being bowled out for 181, Shaun Udal enjoyed his moment in the international spotlight with 4-14 to see India skittled for 100. The series ended all square and Flintoff was hailed for his leadership skills in tough circumstances.
Once again a tour of India was threatened by nothing to do with cricket. The terror attacks in Mumbai saw England fly home midway through the one-day series, resulting in the last two matches being cancelled and India being declared 5-0 winners. It seemed a return was unlikely, but after a training camp in Dubai and the switching of the venues for the Tests from Ahmedabad and Mumbai to Chennai and Mohali, Kevin Pietersen's squad made the brave decision to go back and play. Despite a lack of preparation time they seemed in control of the series opener thanks to centuries in each innings from Andrew Strauss, with some experts suggesting KP had been too timid in declaring at 311-9. It turned out, however, that 387 was far too easy for India to chase down, Sehwag setting them on their way in destructive fashion before Tendulkar thrilled the crowd with an unbeaten hundred. The five-wicket defeat, and particularly the manner of it, was a serious body blow to England. Any hope they had of levelling matters in the second Test were dashed by a combination of morning fog, afternoon bad light and tons from Gautam Gambhir and Dravid. Pietersen did pummel a hundred of his own in response having found himself in extremely early, including some aggressive blows against the 'pie chucker' that is Yuvraj Singh. Still, time was always against KP and co, and India had no desire to make a game of it by dangling a carrot with a generous declaration.
Check out the grounds and cities hosting England Down Under this winter