Mumbai: The legendary Anil Kumble has termed England’s bowling attack for the opening Test against India, starting in Hyderabad on Thursday as “highly inexperienced”, while predicting a comfortable 4-1 win for the hosts in the five-match series.
England announced a three-pronged spin attack on the eve of the Hyderabad Test with uncapped spinner Tom Hartley and one-Test old Rehan Ahmed teaming up with Jack Leach, with Mark Wood being the lone fast bowler.
With Ben Stokes ruling himself out from sharing bowling workload throughout the five-Test series, England skipper may face some troubles finding the right mix but Kumble said it will be interesting to see how the visitors approach the rubber.
“It will all depend on how Jack Leach leads the spin attack. Three spinners, of course the English management obviously have had a look at the pitch and they believe that it’s going to take turn,” Kumble replied to a PTI query during an interaction organised by Jio Cinema.
“In that sense, just with one fast bowler in that lineup, it’ll be interesting to see how they go about because I certainly thought that once Harry Brook was unavailable, they had the choice to go with Jonny Bairstow as the keeper and then bring in another fast bowler.
“They brought in Ben Foakes, which means that he will keep with just that one fast bowler. We don’t know how much of bowling Ben Stokes is going to do, it’ll be interesting to see how they go about but (it is a) highly inexperienced bowling lineup,” Kumble said.
Kumble said the likes of Hartley and Ahmed will face a challenging time in the series.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge for those young spinners, especially Rehan and Hartley to build pressure on this wonderful Indian batting lineup.”
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‘Can see India winning 4-1’
Kumble predicted the Anthony de Mello Trophy to be going India’s way.
“I’m not a guy with a crystal ball but I can certainly see India winning the series. I am thinking all five (Tests) would provide results because of the approach that these two teams have towards Test cricket,” he said.
“Unless and until weather intervenes, all five Test matches would have results. I would give one to England and four to India,” he added.
On India’s spin selection
The former India captain said Axar Patel’s dominating show against England in his debut series warrants him a selection as India’s third spinner ahead of Kuldeep Yadav.
“If the conditions are spin-friendly — which I’m assuming that it would be — then the preferred spinner would be Axar Patel because of what he brings to the table in terms of his batting ability and his all-round ability,” Kumble said.
“But if it’s really a good batting surface, then the preference would be Kuldeep as the third spinner. I certainly believe that (in) the first Test match, because of the success that Axar has had in his first Test series against England, the Indian management would be looking towards him over Kuldeep,” he added.
While admitting that the Indian selectors have acknowledged Rajat Patidar’s consistency by bringing him into the squad, Kumble does not see the right-handed middle-order batter to be making his debut yet.
“He’s done well over the years. In England Lions’ game, when the team was in trouble, he came in and scored a brilliant hundred. He’s been rewarded by the selectors as a replacement. But I doubt whether he will play tomorrow,” Kumble expressed.
“My sense would be that Shreyas (Iyer) now the team management has clearly stated that (KL) Rahul will not be keeping wickets, I am assuming that it’ll be Shreyas at No. 4, then No. 5 would be KL Rahul, (at) No. 6 (KS) Bharat and then the all-rounders,” he added.
Kumble said it is imperative to have a defined approach with the bat in the Indian conditions against England’s Bazball approach.
“We’ll have to see whether it’s going to be basketball or bus-ball bus as in (the) Hindi (word) bus,” Kumble quipped.
“The approach certainly is needed. If it’s a spin-friendly surface that they’re going to encounter, they certainly need to have that kind of a mindset coming into a game, you can’t be looking to survive. But at the same time, you need a bit of a balance in Indian conditions,” he said.
“You cannot just come in with intent to just hit boundaries; you also need a good defence. That’s something that England will have to watch out for.
“What the English batters bring — we know that irrespective of the conditions — they come in and look to dominate the bowling and put pressure on the bowlers. It’ll be interesting to see how the Indian bowling lineup responds to that kind of an approach,” he added.