Virat Kohli has questioned whether England’s batsmen will carry “scarring” from their 3-1 defeat in India this year amid a bullish appraisal of his bowling attack leading into Wednesday’s first Test at Trent Bridge.
Conditions for the marquee five-match series will differ hugely from England’s subcontinental nightmare in February and March, when they were spun out for less than 200 six times in eight innings as the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin dominated.
Nevertheless, with the England captain Joe Root set to keep faith with the likes of Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope – three players who struggled during that tour – Kohli believes he has the seam-bowling resources to exploit any hangovers here.
Asked about the relevance of the previous meeting between the two sides, Kohli replied: “Well, that all depends on the batsman who are walking out, how much scarring they carry with them when they walk out to bat.
“That’s basically how I see it. I can vouch for the fact that we definitely have the ability to bowl them out on a consistent basis. That’s the kind of quality that we possess and as long as we execute our skills and our plans, then we are very confident of doing that very often in the series.
“If the scars are being carried or not, I’m not in a position to answer that. It honestly depends on the individual walking into that.”
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Siraj are the seamers underpinning this confidence and though India’s previous visit to these shores in 2018 ended in a 4-1 defeat, they have since travelled to Australia twice and won both times.
While their preparation this time has been limited to just one warm-up game since defeat to New Zealand in the World Test Championship final in June – the tourists stayed in the UK and had a three-week break – Kohli is confident in their readiness.
Kohli said: “We’re definitely much better prepared than we have been in the past. The [break] allowed us to acclimatise. We have been playing in different conditions, whether it’s overcast or it’s sunny, how the pitches behave, how the ball travels, how much it swings in the air, all those things are definitely going to add to our experience.
“But you can have all the experience in the world. It all boils down to execution in crunch moments. And that purely comes from belief and how badly you want to be in situations which are not easy. As long as we embrace that, we will find answers to all the questions thrown at us.”
Root undertook his pre-series media duties on Monday in order to focus on his batting preparation – a sign of the captain’s desperation to start the series with a commanding performance – and it was Jimmy Anderson who spoke to the media a day out. The 39-year-old has endured a stop-start summer, the schedule and weather restricting him to just 22 overs for Lancashire since the 1-0 defeat to New Zealand in June, even if they did produce a career-best seven for 19 against Kent and his 1,000th first-class wicket.
Anderson said: “It’s not ideal. It’s not been the normal preparation. But that’s just the nature of this summer, unfortunately. There’s not been much red-ball cricket at this time of year.
“With lots of other cricket going on that’s all been white-ball stuff, whether that’s county cricket or The Hundred, [Stuart Broad and I] have just been trying to find places to bowl, to make sure we are ticking over.
“But we’ve had a couple of days here where the intensity has just gone up a notch. I am looking forward to getting my teeth into a five-match series. I get the same feeling from the lads in the dressing room as well.”
Among them is Ollie Robinson, returning to the Test side after his impressive seven-wicket debut at Lord’s two months ago was marred by the emergence of offensive historical tweets and a subsequent ban from the Cricket Discipline Committee.
Anderson said: “I think the way [Robinson] dealt with it during the game at Lord’s shows a lot about his character – he bowled brilliantly. I’m sure he’ll do the same again.
“I know for a fact he’s desperate to play, hungry to play again. Everything that’s gone on off the field is now behind him and he can just get on and hopefully, if he does play, carry on his good form in Test cricket.”
Meanwhile England have confirmed Jofra Archer will see a specialist this week amid concerns the right elbow that was operated on in April is still causing discomfort.
The 26-year-old has bowled nine competitive overs for Sussex since, with his prospects of an England return this summer receding and his hopes of being fit for the T20 World Cup and Ashes tour this winter in the balance.