England need to find edge
Nasser Hussain says that with India more of a threat than the West Indies, England will need to up their game.
By James Root
Last Updated: 01/08/07 1:09pm
The only change to the team will be in the bowling department following the groin injury that has ruled Steve Harmison out and they will have to look at the pitch and then make a decision on a horses for courses basis.
Personally I've always felt that you can bowl India out, but with Harmison and Andrew Flintoff ruled out they may struggle. Particularly because the Indians' technique against the swinging ball is better than the West Indian batsmans'. This is a factor behind the inclusion of Stuart Broad as the selectors like the bounce that he gets.
If Broad makes his debut it'll be highly unfair on James Anderson who England have carried around for a long while now. But they will probably go on the conditions - if they feel it's going to swing at Lord's they'll play Anderson. If not they'll probably go for Broad.
I would go for Anderson but I can see why they would opt to play Broad.
Broad is not the finished article. We build a lot of these young lads up and they are going to have bad days - which Broad has had - but he is still learning his game.
He has all the attributes - he's tall, hits the deck hard, gets a lot of bounce, he doesn't just rely on swing - he's a multi-dimentional bowler, he's got good aggression and he gets in the batsman's face.
He has everything that is needed but I still think he's got to bulk himself up and get more overs under his belt before he is the finished article but I like everything I've seen of him so far, plus he can bat a bit which is important.
I'm glad the selectors have shown faith in Andrew Strauss as he's just been through one of those bad trots that every batsman goes through. He's a class act and he will end up getting at least 6,000 Test runs and playing 100 Test matches.
He's a fantastic Test match player but he's just going through a period where bowlers have worked him out a little bit but I think he'll come out the other side.
When you're stuck in a bad run of form it becomes a battle between your mind and your technique. You start tinkering around with your game a bit too much and it basically comes down to how strong you are mentally to determine getting back on track.
You worry and think about your game far too much and the more you think about it the worse it gets so it's all about just clearing the thoughts from your head and I think that Strauss is strong enough to do that.
I think they have a good batting line-up - they batted pretty well in the series win over the West Indies.
England could do with being more ruthless with the ball. Liam Plunkett and Steve Harmison were very much up and down during that series and we relied heavily on Matthew Hoggard, Ryan Sidebottom and Monty Panesar.
The Indian batting line-up play spin very well, so how they play Panesar will be the key. It's going to be hard work for them to bowl this India team out twice in a match so the bowlers will have to be disciplined.
India have a well balanced team but, like England, their strength lies in their batting. I'm not overly surprised that they decided not to bring Harbhajan Singh as he hasn't done much for a while now but I am a little surprised that Irfan Pathan has been overlooked as he is a steady all-rounder.
Also Munaf Patel has not been selected for this tour due to a back problem and they will miss him as he's aggressive and can bowl reverse-swing. Bowling is certainly their weakest suit.
Sachin Tendulkar showed us all that he means business with a brilliant knock of 171 against England Lions at Chelmsford last week and that could be ominous for the series. I've heard a rumour that he isn't doing much media on this tour as he's focusing on what could be his last tour of England. I've been told that he's very keen to stay sharp and get big runs.
Their batting line-up has a lot of experience with Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh. That's a pretty strong order.
England will have to try and get into that middle order quickly!
I think this series will be very tight and I can see there being a couple of draws, so I think the series will finish with honours even, 1-1.
Nasser Hussain was talking to James Root
Coverage of England's first Test against India is live from 10am, Thursday, on Sky Sports 1 & HD1 and you can also follow all the action with skysports.com's exclusive over-by-over commentary.