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India will start as favourites against England, says Ian Chappell

Ian Chappell India’s formidable top-order may tip the scales in favour of the hosts in the Test series which gets underway from February 5.

IANS | New Delhi |

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes India “will start as favourites” in the upcoming Test series against England owing to their “quality pace bowling” attack and a consistent batting top-order.

India would enter the four-match series riding high on confidence following their remarkable Border-Gavaskar series win against Australia. The hosts will also be bolstered by the addition of premier batsman and skipper Virat Kohli who didn’t take part in the last three Tests Down Under in order to welcome his first child.

The Joe Root-led England, on the other hand, would also feel they can replicate the success of the 2012 England team as they recently defeated Sri Lanka in a two-Test series.

“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.

The former Australia captain feels India’s formidable top-order may tip the scales in favour of the hosts in the Test series which gets underway from February 5 in Chennai.

“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.”

According to the 77-year-old, the middle order of both the teams is equally strong.

“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,” said Chappell.

“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,” he added.

India, have a quality pace bowling attack with a lot of depth as was displayed in the recent series in Australia, believes Chappell.

“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,” said Chappell.

“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 added.