CHENNAI, February 2: Former England star Kevin Pietersen feels Virat Kohli taking charge from Ajinkya Rahane, after one of India’s finest triumphs, is an “interesting story” that will be discussed a lot throughout the upcoming Test series between the two heavyweights.
The four-match rubber against England starts here on Friday, weeks after Rahane led India to an incredible come-from-behind Test series win in Australia.
Speaking on Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected, Pietersen analysed the important storylines ahead of the series.
“Kohli, Anderson, Ajinkya Rahane, how’s he going to go, being captain in Australia and then coming back and Kohli, how’s that dynamic going to work? It’s going to be a very interesting dynamic… something that is talked about a lot during this series,” he said.
“Then you have got Jofra Archer, can he knock over Pujara? Bumrah’s back.
“There are so many different permutations that could happen in this Test series, but I think there’s going to be a very interesting story that’s going to run through this series — Kohli comes back as captain after Ajinkya Rahane was so good in Australia.”
The 40-year-old Pietersen, who briefly led England during his nine-year international career from 2005 to 2014, had no hesitation in terming India as 100 per cent favourites, more so with the visitors deciding to rest a few key players in line with their rotation policy.
“India’s got experience at home, they definitely do. They’ve got Kohli coming back. England has not taken their best team for the first two Test matches. I think Johnny Bairstow has to be there and I don’t think he’s going to be there.
“India are definitely favourites. 100 per cent they’re the favourites, because England haven’t taken their best team or they’re certainly not starting with their best team.”
While England easily won their last home series against India, Kohli’s side comprehensively beat them when they were in this part of the world last.
With top players from both sides displaying good form in recent times, Pietersen is sure a cracker of a series awaits the cricket world.
“I know Joe Root has been outstanding in Sri Lanka, so he’s clearly somebody who’s going to come in with a lot of form. England’s opening batsmen — have they got enough time to turn their techniques around? (Dom) Sibley did well in the last Test match,” he said.
“Has (Zak) Crawley got enough time to turn his technique around? Is Burns going to come back in? Ben Stokes is there, and he’s an absolute superstar. Is Anderson going to be able to do the business?
“Then, you have got Ashwin, Bumrah, Kohli, Rahane, Pujara, there are too many superstars for me to sit here and pick one player in particular. I just think that it’s going to be a fantastic series – slow wickets, but two great teams,” Pietersen said on the show.
Former England pacer Dominic Cork is certain that India are going to emerge victorious.
“I think India will win the series. I think England are in a better place now. England just beating Sri Lanka will help and having the likes of Stokes, Archer and Burns back in the squad will help but I still think that India are too strong and will win the series.”
England swept Sri Lanka 2-0 in their previous away series before coming to India.
Cork picked the promising Shubman Gill and in-from Rishabh Pant as the young stars to watch out for in the series.
“We need to put two younger players into the Indian side. Shubman Gill… what a performance against Australia. He’s obviously a talented cricketer, so I am going to pick him,” Cork said.
“Even though Rishabh Pant, I think he’s got a major force to play in this series, especially with that superb innings in the last Test match to win the series against Australia, but for me, (it) is Shubman Gill, because he is such a superb young player and England will find it tough to get him out.” (PTI)