Although the year 2013 is far from over, there is already a lot of palpable anticipation of India’s cricket schedule in 2014; possibly due to the World Cup in 2015. So let’s take a look at what awaits India’s cricket fans at the turn of the year.
Although the tour of South Africa starts in 2013, the latter part of the tour is in 2014.
January 2-6: 2nd Test of three match series at Newlands, Cape Town
Newlands has been one of those rare grounds in South Africa which has been kind to the Indian batsmen because it has traditionally had a sporting pitch without being too lopsided in favor of either the bowlers or the batsmen. You can expect an Indian to win here.
January 15-19: 3rd Test at Wanderers, Johannesburg
Wanderers, which is more popularly known as The Bullring, has traditionally been a fast and bouncy pitch. However, one thing that cannot be denied is that the bounce is always consistent; as a result of which the batsman can play a long innings once he is comfortable with the pitch. It might be tough for India to win or draw this one considering the might of the South African bowling attack; but one can definitely expect a riveting contest.
II. India’s tour of New Zealand (Jan-Feb 2014)
After the South African tour, the Indian team will be going to New Zealand for five ODIs and two tests. In the previous tour, India won both the Test and the ODI series but the horrors of 2002 are still fresh in the minds of most Indian cricket fans.
The venues where the games are being played are at Napier, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland. Most of the grounds are used for rugby these days and hence the norm is to use drop in pitches, which makes it impossible to judge the nature of the pitch. However, the windy and generally overcast conditions in New Zealand should allow plenty of swing for the faster bowlers.
The ODI Series:
1st ODI: January 19, McLean Park, Napier
2nd ODI: January 22, Seddon Park, Hamilton
3rd ODI: January 25, Eden Park, Auckland
4th ODI: January 28, Seddon Park, Hamilton
5th ODI: January 31, Basin Reserve, Wellington
All the games are day/night affairs and hence there is a fair chance that the side batting second might find it difficult due to the enhanced swing that bowlers can get. However, it is a series that India should win comfortably and if they play to their potential, a five-zero win is not out of the question against a team that is ranked in the bottom half of the ICC ODI Rankings.
1st Test: February 6-10, Eden Park, Auckland
Auckland is a ground where India has never lost a Test match and hopefully the trend will continue in this series as well. However, if the pitches are anything close to the ones in 2002 then nothing can be guaranteed.
2nd Test: February 14-18, Basin Reserve, Wellington
Although India drew the Test at Basin Reserve last time, it is a ground where they have had a relatively poor record. Out of the six Tests they have played there so far, they have won one, drawn one and most tellingly lost four. The conditions can be windy and the presence of good swing bowlers can prove to be India’s undoing.
Prediction: A hard fought 1-0 victory to India
III. India tour to England (June-Sep 2014)
A tour of England is a chance for the Indian cricket team to redeem their honor which they lost back in 2011, when they were simply annihilated by a marauding English team. This time it will be a good old fashioned tour that will include a fully fledged five Test series and a five match ODI series, with a solitary T20 game thrown into the mix.
1st Test: July 9-13, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Since 1959, India has managed only one win at this picturesque venue at Nottingham out of 5 attempts and over the years it has proven to be a damp venue with a lot of moisture to offer on the first day. The Indian batsmen and bowlers would have to be at their best to thwart the hosts in this series.
2nd Test: July 17-21, Lord’s, London
The last and only time that India won a Test at Lord’s was way back in 1986 during the triumphant series in 1986 under Kapil Dev but since then the team has had a rocky time at this historic venue.
3rd Test: July 27-31, Rose Bowl, Southampton
This is one of the newest venues in England and usually aids the spinners in the 4th innings. However, after India’s struggles against Panesar and Swann it cannot be said with certainty whether it will be an advantage or not.
4th Test: Aug 7-11, Old Trafford, Manchester
This is a venue in England where India has never won a Test match and that has a lot to do with the windy, damp conditions and a helpful pitch, usually with a nice coating of grass. The English pace bowling arsenal could run riot there.
5th Test: Aug 15-19, Oval, London
This is perhaps the only ground in England where India has had a relatively good time due to a pitch which usually favors the batsmen. In eleven Tests so far, they have lost three, won one and drawn eight, including that incredible Test in 1979 when India almost chased down 428.
Prediction: – 3-1 to England. They are simply a better Test side.
The ODI Series:
1st ODI: Aug 25, County Ground, Bristol
It’s a small ground and hence you can expect an absolute run feast.
2nd ODI: Aug 27, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
The ground in Wales usually hosts ODIs and over the years has provided a true pitch, which is relished by the stoke makers.
3rd ODI: Aug 30, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
4TH ODI: Sept 2, Edgbaston, Birmingham
This is one of the largest grounds in England which has been a happy hunting ground for India over the years. Expect vociferous local support from the expatriate community.
5th ODI: Sep 5, Headingley, Leeds
Strangely no Test has been awarded to this venue in Yorkshire but the final ODI could prove to be a decisive one. However, the seaming conditions might prove to be India’s undoing.
Prediction: 3-2 to India
By Soham Samaddar
Image Source: By PaddyBriggs (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons