New Delhi [India], August 3 (ANI): Former India pacer Ashish Nehra feels if opening batsman Rohit Sharma has a good England tour, the chances of India winning the series against the Three Lions would increase.
India and England will lock horns in a five-match Test series beginning Wednesday at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. The series will mark the start of the second cycle of the World Test Championship.
Mayank Agarwal has been ruled out of the first Test due to a concussion. Shubman Gill was ruled out earlier, and Nehra believes that KL Rahul should be given a go as the opening partner to Rohit Sharma.
"The team management earlier said that we are looking at KL Rahul in the middle order. But see, I have seen KL Rahul as an opener in white-ball format. Before Hanuma Vihari, why not KL Rahul? Although I already feel that we have too many people floating around the opening slot, I hope Rohit plays all Tests. If I had to take chance, I would rather go in with KL Rahul as an opener," said Nehra during a virtual press conference organised by Sony Network.
"I really hope Rohit Sharma has a good England tour. If he has a good tour, then we as a team, our chances will be much better. If you can start well, it will keep a strong foundation," he added.
When asked whether Mohammed Siraj should be given a go in the first Test, Nehra said: "Yes, Mohammed Siraj is waiting in the wings but he has to wait for his turn. Everybody knows that Siraj is a very skillful bowler but here you are talking about a guy like Jasprit Bumrah who has done really well in the last five-six years since his arrival. You have to start with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Ishant Sharma."
"If you want a fourth fast bowler, we are not there, the captain, coach, and team management can take a call based on who has been bowling well. Whether you want to go with Umesh Yadav or you want to play Siraj. But if you are playing three seamers then you will start with Bumrah, Shami, and Ishant unless there is an injury to any of them," he added.
Nehra also said that he does not agree with the concept that every bowler needs to be able to swing the ball in England to get success. "I don't agree that you need only swing bowlers in England. Look at somebody like Stuart Broad. Even Jofra Archer is not a swing bowler. But they are England's main weapons, so a lot depends on how you bowl and it's not like Bumrah or Shami can't swing the ball or they need one particular surface to achieve results," said Nehra.
Answering a question of whether India has the best possible opportunity to defeat England in England with Ben Stokes opting out of the series, Nehra said: "See, you cannot say this is the best opportunity. In 2007, India won 1-0 when Rahul Dravid was the captain, but you should not think of it like a now or never situation. England has resources, new players are coming in and they are going through a transition. Ben Stokes is not there, but Buttler is there. You are talking about a team sport, Stokes is an all-rounder, but that can happen to any team. India has to play really well to defeat England in England."
When asked what sort of combination India should opt for in the series against England, Nehra said: "It all depends on the surface you are playing. When you talk about three-four seamers, these discussions just happen when you are playing in England, Australia, South Africa, or New Zealand. There is more life on the pitches, I agree but it is not like there is swing available on every pitch you play."
India's tour of England will be live on SONY SIX channels from 3.30 pm IST on August 4. (ANI)