Former captain Rahul Dravid says India’s success in England will largely depend on how well their under-fire bowling attack can shape up during the five-Test series, starting at Nottingham on July 9.
“I think the key is going to be the ability to take 20 wickets,” Dravid said at Lord’s, where he is playing for MCC XI against the Rest of the World in a match marking the ground’s bicentenary on Saturday.
Under Dravid’s leadership, India, in 2007 had won the three-Test series 1-0 — one of just three Indian Test series victories on English soil.
Dravid pointed out that left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan, who is not a part of the current series because of injury, and retired leg-spinner Anil Kumble played a vital role in the team’s victory in 2007.
“When we won the series here in 2007, Zaheer was exceptional but he got good support from the other guys as well. Anil was brilliant because he was able to control the game by keeping one end tight,” Dravid recalled.
The touring Indian squad comprises experienced pacer Ishant Sharma — the only bowler in their squad to have played a Test in England prior to this trip – but he was off-colour during the warm-up games. The pace unit also consists of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Stuart Binny.
Dravid said unless these bowlers are able to swing the ball, it would be difficult to get the better of the English batsmen.
“All three of those seamers swung the ball in that (2007) series and if the Indians can pitch the ball up and swing it, I think they give themselves a chance,” he said.
Dravid, however, is confident that the young batsmen in Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma would come up with impressive performances.
“I think most of them, whilst they’ve not played Test matches here, have been on ‘A’ tours here and they have played one-day cricket, including the Champions Trophy (which India won) last year,” Dravid said.
“I see the potential for this young group of players to become a formidable batting force,” the 41-year-old said.
Dravid, who made his debut in England in 1996 with a fluent 95 at Lord’s, said he learnt a lot during that tour.
“I know how much I learned from my first tour of England.
I went away from here a much better cricketer and better person for it,” he said.
“There is a great opportunity here, a great learning experience.”
India were whitewashed 0-4 in England during their last tour in 2011. In fact, they haven’t won a Test away from home since beating the West Indies in June 2011 — the run has now stretched to 14 matches.
Dravid has been appointed as an advisor to the Indian team in England for the Test series and he will be joining them ahead of the first Test.
Asked if he would be “mentoring” the side, Dravid said.
“We will see with the results. If it goes well, I have done it.”