I read Cricinfo’s article on the best line up to try and beat India in India and I decided to have a go. SPOILER: Unlike any of the Cricinfo experts – I have not included Dimuth Karunaratne because he averages 15.17 in India vs India…

1. Sir Alastair Cook

Yes, Sir Alastair Cook is retired from international cricket but I would definitely be looking to pick up the phone and call him up for this one and it’s for the reason that the former England captain has scored 4 out of the 9 centuries scored by openers against India in India since 2010.

931 runs in 18 innings gives Cook an average of 54.76 in India since 2010 and there is no reason to think he couldn’t reproduce here.

2. Azhar Ali

I could have easily jumped on the Dean Elgar band wagon after he scored an outstanding 160 in Visakhapatnam in the first test between South Africa and India a couple of weeks ago but the fact he didn’t pass 50 again in the series has hurt him in comparison to Azhar Ali.

Azhar averages 53.98 in the UAE for Pakistan so if he can transform this into a run of form in India, we will have a really strong base at the top of the order. His top score of 302* gives me confidence that he will find big runs against a quality India attack.

To be fair, if Keaton Jennings had batted more than 4 times in India – I may well have selected him given that both his test centuries have come in the sub-continent.

3. Joe Root

Since he debuted in India in 2012, half of Root’s innings in India have seen him score in excess of 50 – although, classic Root has seen him only convert 1 of those 6 innings into a hundred.

Root has scored 584 runs in India during his two visits and I would be confident he could do a similar job for me as I try to beat India on their own patch.

4. Steve Smith

I could have batted Smith at 3 but I have just witnessed Smith decimate England from number 4 so I am hoping he can do the same to Virat Kohli’s men from a similar position.

Smith has a high score of 178* in India and his ability to amass big scores all over the world puts this side in a really good position for the series. He also has 3 hundreds in India, bettered only by Sir Alastair Cook.

5. Darren Bravo

This is such an outrageous pick and I can only see it coming off in fantasy land, but Bravo makes the side due to his average of 50.40 in India and his average of 51.73 in away tests for the West Indies.

Bravo has been dropped for the one-off test vs Afghanistan following a disappointing home series against India which ended with a concussion injury but prior to that, the signing of an all format deal for the West Indies may mean the best of the Trinidadian batsman is too come which may include shades of his 166 in Mumbai in 2011.

6. Moeen Ali

I am getting really nervous at the amount of left handers I am picking in this side but I would like to pick a spinning allrounder and I am hoping to convince Moeen to play this one off red ball tour in India.

In my side, Moeen is coming in as a genuine number 6 – he has 381 runs across 9 innings, averaging 42.33 in the process. In that time he has scored two hundreds with a best of 146.

His bowling stats reek of part-time off-spin but in this team, he is going to be a third spinner. He has taken 10 wickets at 64.90 and strikes every 112.9 deliveries.

7. Mushfiqur Rahim

If I can convince Mushfiqur not to give up the keeping gloves just yet, then I think he can make my side to take on India.

His 127 vs India in Hyderabad came in a losing cause but his keeping in sub-continent conditions also adds value to the side. I also felt alongside this, his performances on away tours in the sub-continent also holds him in good stead. In these 9 innings across India and Sri Lanka, Mushfiqur averages 65.56 with the bat.

Obviously, Safaraz Ahmed deserves a mention due to his performances in the UAE (1178 runs @ 42.07) but Mushfiqur’s away form in the sub-continent gets him the gig.

8. Simon Harmer

You are going to find that I have no variety to my spin attack and it’ll probably really confuse you but I think Harmer would be a great pick if I was looking to take on India in India.

Fresh off the back of a successful County Championship in which he took 83 wickets across the season, I think it is obvious to say that Harmer is a world class spinner in any conditions.

His last test actually came in Naigpur in 2015 but in his 5 test match career, he took 20 wickets at an average of 29.40. 2 of these Test Matches came in India where he took half of his test wickets (10) at an average of 25.40. Whilst this was in a losing cause, you can’t help but feel South Africa’s batting in India was the demise of them on this occasion.

9. James Pattinson

I wanted a bit of pace and I thought that Pattinson could be my man, If the Australian quick can stay fit – he has proven he came make a difference in India with the red ball.

On Australia’s infamous homework gate tour of India in 2013, Pattinson was punished by Cricket Australia however he did return a return of 9 wickets in 5 innings at an average of 27.77 which shows the ability to take wickets despite the unfriendly conditions for the seamer. Let’s hope that six years on he can repeat the feat and take down India on home soil.

10. Mohammad Abbas

I honestly felt a seamer who averages 17.56 with the ball in the UAE was too good to leave out of a side trying to beat India on home soil.

Yes, this is across 6 matches but there are players in this team on smaller sample sizes and I feel the control of Abbas would match Pattinson’s pace really well.

Abbas has 27 wickets in the UAE, taking 2 5fers and a 10fer in the process.

11. Yasir Shah

It was between Yasir Shah, Nathan Lyon and Imran Tahir for the last spot but I thought against Lyon because I already have two off-spinners and I was against Tahir because I already cheated by getting Sir Cook back in so I didn’t want to get another retired test star in the line up (Harmer doesn’t count…).

Although he has never toured India, the Pakistani leg spinner has 116 wickets in the UAE and takes them at an average of 24.56 – he could really be the match winner on this tour.





India must have been licking their lips when they turned up in Pune on Day 1 knowing that Australia would have to combat a wicket that would produce inconsistent bounce and turn due to it’s dryness but three days later, they are feeling a somewhat different emotion.

 There was no doubt that Steve O’Keefe was the star with the ball for Australia. The thirty-two year old, left arm spinner was allowed to bowl a fuller length by the Indian batsmen who surely could have used their feet more whilst playing him. Instead, they let O’Keefe reap a reward of twelve wickets in the match due to a consistent line and length paired with a decent amount of turn.

It has been a sensational turn around for O’Keefe, who had to leave Australia’s last tour of the sub-continent in Sri Lanka after tearing his right hamstring meaning that this tour is realistically his last chance to stake a claim for a regular spot in this Australian side – especially with leg-spinner, Adam Zampa knocking even harder on the door in recent times.

What was even more impressive about O’Keefe was the work he has put in prior to this series. Instead of turning out for his Big Bash side, the Sydney Sixers – O’Keefe went to refine his red ball skills as well as preserve himself due to his retched recent injury record. Of course, the performance O’Keefe put in this last test is the perfect example of preparation meeting opportunity.

Though O’Keefe may well get all the plaudits, Steve Smith’s second innings hundred should not go unnoticed. Smith is always an impressive individual and his performance in this first test showed him to be one of the best current leaders in International Cricket. Matt Renshaw also impressed in both innings despite carrying a stomach bug through out the test match and things are currently looking positive for the Aussies.

The only thing they need to wary of is a mandatory Virat Kohli double hundred in a test series, and they could well cause an upset in this series.


IPL moves are good for English Cricket

It may be stating the obvious, but these IPL deals for the eight English representatives in the Indian Premier League can only be a good thing going forward for English Cricket.

Though Ben Stokes broke records with his £1.7million pay out from Rising Pune Supergiants, it should be noted that this is still a bit of a gamble from the franchise. This is said due to his international T20 record maybe not being as good as it should be for the talents that Stokes possess.

His average of 22.71 scored at a strike rate of 134 is fair enough given his regular position of 5/6 in the England line up but as a bowler, Stokes goes at just over nine an over, striking at 48.50. There is no doubting Stokes’ talents as a box office player but if you take a moneyball approach to your buying technique, then he is simply not a wise buy. With that said, there is no doubting the potential for Stokes to have a good IPL and for this move to be great for English cricket.

Another Englishmen who also hit the headlines in the IPL auction was Tymal Mills. Once Mitchell Starc had withdrawn from the tournament due to injury, it was obvious that Royal Challengers Bangalore would be looking for a left arm quick like Mills who as stated previously here, bowls very quick with clever variations. The £1.2m payout for Mills could well be justified as RCB look to put together a bowling attack that compliments the top four of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Shane Watson and AB de Villiers.

Whilst Mills replaced Starc in a like for like according to RCB, Kolkota Knight Riders did similar by snapping up Chris Woakes as a replacement for Andre Russell. Whilst there is no replacing the Jamaican Russell (who misses the tournament following a failed drugs test), Woakes has proven to have great bowling skills in one day cricket as well as being more than handy with the bat. Behind Stokes, Woakes was the next best replacement KKR could conjure up and this could be a very shrewd signing even though Woakes is currently not in England’s T20 squad.

Jason Roy’s move to Gujarat Lions could also be questioned by fans of the franchise. Whilst there is no doubting Roy’s ability, was there a need for another opener baring in mind that the franchise already have the likes of Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith in their ranks. On current form, Roy should open the batting with McCullum as he looks to be the best option but their still seems to be little point in the Lions using one of their overseas slots to pick up another opener, though they may be rewarded if Roy continues the recent form he has been showing.

Other moves for Englishmen saw Sunrisers Hyderabad pick up Chris Jordan which makes the franchise a mouthwatering prospect in the death overs as Jordan looks to pair up with former Sussex team mate and Bangladeshi star, Mustafizur Rahman. The Sunrisers have also picked up Afghanistan’s former captain, Mohammed Nabi and eighteen year old legspinner, Rashid Khan and certainly look to be an exciting franchise as they look to defend their crown.

Eoin Morgan, who was released by the Sunrisers, was picked up by Kings XI Punjab and that also looks to be a wise move as Kings XI have got some well needed calmness among their ranks and another batter to support the charismatic duo of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller.

Jos Butler and Sam Billings return to their franchises, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils respectively and whilst they both shone briefly in IPL 9 – they will look to kick on in their second seasons at their franchises are both have the real potential to do so. Both are fantastic players of spin and in India, that could well work in their favour as they look to establish themselves in the tournament.

So a fascinating auction for all English cricket fans, the IPL looks to be a mouthwatering prospect ahead of a big few months of cricket and with more English players taking part than ever, it can be expected that IPL 10 will be widely followed in the UK.


IPL moves are good for English Cricket