How have England and India changed since 2011?

Blog Opinion

It's been nearly three years since India last played a Test series in England, and in 2011 the visitors were humiliated four-nil, losing by whopping margins at Lord's, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and The Oval.

It's been nearly three years since India last played a Test series in England, and in 2011 the visitors were humiliated four-nil, losing by whopping margins at Lord's, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and The Oval.

Since then, they've played another series, this time in India, where England also won, but by a closer margin of two-one.

This time they will play five Tests, and both teams are in transition. Let's have a look back at the previous series in the UK, and compare where the teams are today, from coaches to captains to convoluted PR exercises.

<b>Squad experience</b>

The current squads are both going through 'new era' phases, with India slightly further ahead. That being said, only three of the tourists played in the 2011 series (Ishant Sharma, MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir) and this will be a massive challenge for a young side that has three uncapped players.

England hold the advantage in that while their squad may be young, the new players are the ones in good form coming out of the Sri Lanka series. They may have lost, but Sam Robson, Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan impressed for the most part, as did Gary Ballance and Joe Root.

In 2011, England's team was filled with experienced campaigners, with only Chris Tremlett a weak link in that regard. The top order was a powerhouse, featuring Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen. Only one of those remain, and not the one fans want right now.

India were also full of Test caps, with a top order of Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Dhoni featuring, and Zaheer Khan leading the bowling attack. Now they only have Ishant for the bowlers to look to, and at the moment that feels like a disadvantage.

<b>Captains and coaches</b>

The glaring difference between then and now is that while Dhoni is still India's captain and Duncan Fletcher is still their coach, England have changed in both regards. In 2011 Strauss was leading the side to number one in the world next to Andy Flower, who had taken over from current coach Peter Moores.

Alastair Cook scored the fourth-most runs in the 2011 series, with a massive near-triple century upping his average appreciably, but this time he is under pressure from all sides, both as skipper and batsman.

Going into that series, Cook had come off two centuries, a 90 and a half ton in two games against Sri Lanka. This time, he's on the back of a 25-knock run without a hundred. He failed against Sri Lanka last month, as did his team.

All this being said, Dhoni didn't have a blistering series in 2011, scoring two half tons in eight innings and averaging 31. Before that series he'd failed for the most part against the West Indies, and this time he's coming in without a Test knock in nearly six months.

<b>India's top order</b>

As mentioned above, India's line up was, on paper, superb. How they lost four matches by huge margins still baffles, unless you label them all a bunch of sub-continent bullies and risk the ire of the Sachin fanboys.

Tendulkar and Dravid were by far India's best batsmen on that tour, with The Wall scoring three futile centuries in eight innings, and SRT averaging over 50. They also had Gautam Gambhir, as they do now, but he had a poor series.

The opener comes into this series on the back of an IPL season that forced the selectors to pick him. He hasn't played a Test since December 2012, against England in Nagpur, and comes into the series without long-time partner Virender Sehwag, whose return seems unlikely.

With Gamhir as the lone senior statesman, it may seem like India's top order is vulnerable, and as 2011 showed, maybe they are. But Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli are two of the most exciting batsmen on the international circuit, not just in India.

While Kohli had made his debut by the time India went to England in 2011, he wasn't picked. Since then, he's played 24 Tests and averages 46.51. His most recent Test innings was a century, albeit back in February.

Pujara is beloved for his Dravid-like defensive technique and Kallis-like cover drives. He impressed in the warm up games against Leicestershire and Derbyshire, scoring half tons in both games and showing a comfort in the new conditions. He has six tons in 19 Tests and averages nearly 60.

<b>Number three</b>

England's man at first drop in 2011 was Jonathan Trott, and now it's young Gary Ballance, who has three whole Tests to his name. In his defence, he comes into the series with a ton and a 70-odd against Sri Lanka, and is thus a capable fellow.

Back then, Trott did not have a good series. He played in two of the four Tests and scored 98 runs, top scoring with 70. Since then, the Warwickshire man has struggled with mental exhaustion and is slowly making his way back to the middle.

<b>He Who Shall Not Be Named</b>

The obvious difference between the series is the lack of Kevin Pietersen now. He was England's, and the series', best batsman in 2011, scoring two centuries, one of which was a double, and two fifties in six innings. He averaged over 100, and only Ian Bell also scored over 500 runs.

Pietersen loved playing against India, his stats support that. But he's gone, never to return in a Test kit for England, and while he may show up at the venues as a spectator wearing sunglasses and a backwards cap, it's time to 'move on'.

The mew middle order does not have a KP, but it has a Bell and a Joe Root. Root's not as inventive, but he is as mouthy in the middle, and comes into the series with a double century at Lord's under his belt. Bell batted at three in 2011, but will be at four now, solidifying the middle.

<b>In a spin</b>

There is a Graeme Swann-shaped hole in the England bowling attack, we must concede. While the off-spinner was in decline when he retired during the most recent Ashes, when he took on India in 2011 he was a key reason for England's series win.

This time, England are struggling to field a front line tweaker, with Moeen Ali and Root handed some overs if Cook sees fit. The pair are batsmen who can bowl some spin, let's be honest, and while Moeen has the potential to be more, he's going to have an interesting time against batsmen who will know how to play him.

India, on the other had, have the Ravis of Jadeja and Ashwin to call on. Neither have played Tests in England, and Ashwin's record away from home is patchy at best, but they are experienced and highly ranked spinners. Ashwin is ranked seventh as a Test bowler, and second as a Test all-rounder. And that Jadeja has gone from a joke all-rounder to India's front line spinner is one of the great mysteries.

Last time, India had Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra, but both were, quite frankly, rubbish. Bhajji took two whole wickets in two games, while Mishra took three in the same space of time, at an average of 106.

<b>Leaders of the pack</b>

Two things that have remained constant and reliable in the intervening years have