New Delhi [India], January 31 (ANI): Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has said that India will start as favourites in the upcoming series against England and the return of key players in the host side will further strengthen the team and give it an "unbeatable appearance".
He also said that the addition of Kohli will make the team's batting order "bulletproof".
"The upcoming India versus England Test series has the potential to be an enticing contest similar in intensity to the one recently completed in Australia. India will start as favourites after an exhilarating victory over Australia, overcoming all obstacles. When you add the name Virat Kohli to the batting order, the team suddenly assumes a bulletproof cloak. In also adding the names R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma to the list of available players, India take on an unbeatable appearance," Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
"Likewise, England can point to improvements they can make to the side that won convincingly in Sri Lanka. The availability of a premium player in Ben Stokes who, like Pandya, provides all-round ability and selection flexibility, albeit at a higher level than the Indian, is a big plus. And Jofra Archer adds substantially to the quality of an already strong pace attack. However, it's the top of the England order, where another returning player, Rory Burns, will reside, that the scales tip in India's favour," he added.
On January 19, Australia's fortress -- The Gabba -- was finally breached. It took 32 years and two months, but the unthinkable was achieved after an injury-ravaged young Indian team defeated Australia by three wickets against all odds in the fourth Test to win the series 2-1.
Now, all the focus is shifted to the series against England. India and England are set to lock horns in four Tests, three ODIs, and five T20Is. The first two games of the 4-game series will be played in Chennai before the cricketers move to Ahmedabad for the third and fourth Test.
Chappell also feels that Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma and the "indomitable" Cheteshwar Pujara places India's top order well ahead of England's top order.
"India's top three feature an impressive Shubman Gill, a talented but flawed Rohit Sharma and the indomitable Cheteshwar Pujara, which places them well ahead of England's top order," he said.
Chappell also said: "Unfortunately, any advantage England might gain from Root's incredible form at No. 4 is immediately negated by India's best batsman also holding down a similar position. Rarely does a series feature two such well-credentialed No. 4 batsmen. The middle order of both teams are a mixture of explosive stroke play with a touch of steadiness for good measure. Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant and the possible addition of Pandya have India well placed to take full advantage of any good start. The ability to swiftly accelerate the scoring is nearly as important to winning Test matches as the capability of taking 20 wickets."
"England are similarly placed with Stokes and Jos Buttler as their lethal weapons. The possible return of Ollie Pope would add some dependability to the threatening nature of that section of the batting order. However, Buttler's departure after just one Test and the possible return of Ravindra Jadeja to the Indian line-up would swing the scales further in favour of the home team. The presence of Archer, along with the skill and experience of stalwarts Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, would normally provide England with an advantage in the pace department. However India's improvement in that category is amply illustrated by their performance in matching Australia's much-vaunted pace attack in two successive away series," he said.
England's touring contingent arrived in Chennai on Wednesday and all the members are undergoing quarantine. Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, and Rory Burns arrived earlier as the trio did not play the Test series against Sri Lanka. The first Test between England and India will begin on February 5 at Chennai.
Chappell said India is utilising its population advantage by nurturing and selecting its best talent.
"Not only does India now have quality pace bowling but they also have it in comforting quantities following the depth displayed in Australia. For years now the rest of the cricketing world has rested uneasily in the fear that India would finally utilise its population advantage by nurturing and selecting its best talent. That day has finally arrived," he said.
"These mouth-watering Test series are to be savoured. With all the challenges Test cricket faces - Covid-19 just being the latest - the future of the format is not guaranteed to be as generously giving as it has been in the last few months," Chappel added. (ANI)