VVS Laxman believes the forthcoming Pataudi Trophy will be India’s ‘greatest examination’ in the second World Test Championship (WTC) cycle. The former batsman said India haven’t won much in England of late and the Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri combination would like to ‘arrest the trend’ and stand true to expectations from them.
India last won in England in 2007, under the stewardship of Rahul Dravid. Since then they have suffered back-to-back drubbings of 4-0, 3-1 and 4-1. The last series in 2018 was one of the most closely competed but India fell short of the hosts’ in seizing advantage in crunch situations.
“Top sides pride themselves on exponentially becoming better versions of themselves. One of the big challenges in Test cricket is conquering foreign lands. Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will be mindful that India haven’t won a series in England since 2007, and that their last three outings have ended in heavy defeats. The endeavour this time will be to arrest that trend, which is not an unrealistic expectation given the quality of resources at their disposal,” VVS Laxman wrote in his column for The Times of India.
Laxman noted India won’t face much trouble in South Africa – the only other overseas tour in the 2nd WTC – while a win here could give them a much-needed fillip.
“This series will be India’s greatest examination during the new WTC cycle. With all due respect, South Africa aren’t quite the same side as they were and India have done well in that country over the years, so they will fancy their chances of a maiden series win there later in the year. A good display in England will do wonders for India’s confidence as well as their standing in Test cricket,” VVS Laxman said.
India will host New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka in the 2nd WTC. The tour to South Africa is scheduled for December 2021-January 2022. Virat Kohli and Co. will cap the cycle with a 2-Test tour of Bangladesh in mid-2022.
“Hope the authorities have facilitated the availability of mental health counsellors” – VVS Laxman
Speaking in light of Ben Stokes’ indefinite break from international cricket due to mental health struggles, VVS Laxman said Indian players have also been in a similar environment in the past year. He expressed hope the BCCI has provided players with counselors who can help them tide over the troubling times.
“India’s cricketers have been in various bubbles for nearly a year now, and I can only imagine the stresses and apprehensions they must have endured, particularly in light of Rishabh Pant in England and Krunal Pandya in Sri Lanka testing Covid-positive. I hope the authorities have facilitated the availability of mental health counsellors to whom the players can turn with trust should they so feel the need,” VVS Laxman signed off.
The first India-England Test will kick off on Wednesday, August 4 in Nottingham.