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This is a post from the past (August, 2016)

India’s tour of West Indies had been fruitful if not for losing the N0.1 spot in the ICC test rankings to Pakistan. India clinched the series 2–0 and the Test series was followed by the T20 extravaganza in the United States. Central Broward Regional Park in Fort Lauderdale hosted the two match T20 series. In the first game, fans witnessed a nail biter what was supposed to be a perfect launching pad for the game in the United States. Technical delay and rain played spoilsport in the 2nd T20I where India looked like leveling the series 1–1. West Indies won the series 1–0, courtesy of Bravo’s magic in the 1st T20I. So, that marked the end of overseas matches for India this year.

India played as many as 21 T20I games this year including the Asia Cup and the ICC World T20. India will host New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia for 13 Test matches this season.This year, India will play 8 Test matches with New Zealand (3) and England (5). India will first play New Zealand in a three match Test series followed by a 5 match one-day series. England’s tour of India begins this November with a five match Test series.

India defeated South Africa 3–0 in the 4 match Test series at home which concluded in December last year. India spun a web against South Africa in the favorable home conditions. Though South Africa had quality batsmen in their lineup, they couldn’t tackle the spin bowling in an effective manner. While the test matches at Mohali and Nagpur ended in 3 days, South African batsmen displayed grit and took the game till the final day at Delhi.

As the Test matches against New Zealand start this September, it remains to be seen whether the New Zealand batsmen can come up with the goods against the Indian spin attack. New Zealand is now ranked 5th, two spots higher than the South Africans who are ranked 7th. Apart from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor there are not many players who can manage spin in India. New Zealanders even lack the experience of the South Africans who visited India last year. New Zealand has two premier fast bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult but they are lacking depth in the spin department. Apart from Ish Sodhi who troubled India in the ICC World T20 there’s no notable spinner in their team. Though it’s early to take a call, it looks like New Zealand doesn’t stand a chance against the Indians in these spin friendly conditions. The 5 match ODI series can be a different story. Although the Indians are very dangerous in this format, New Zealand’s ODI team is packed with All- Rounders and match winners and they can offer serious competition to the Indian side. It’s safe to say this series will be a tight contest.

England comes to India for a 5 match Test series this year. After suffering a humiliating whitewash in England in 2011, series defeats 2–1 at home and 3–1 in England, India will look to improve their Test match record against the English side. England has competent batsmen who can play spin well in these conditions. The current English side has some of the best fast bowlers in the world. It will not be easy for the Indian batsmen against the likes of Anderson, Broad and Woakes. England will surely miss the flair of the spin duo Swann and Panesar who made the most of the Indian pitches in 2012. Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are able spinners but they aren’t of the standard of Ashwin and Jadeja. This series will surely be a battle between the English batsmen and the Indian spin twins.

These two home series will offer Test match cricket against competent sides. It has been an overkill of T20I matches this year including the IPL. Indian cricket board should certainly hatch out a plan salvaging the best interests of the three formats of the game. Until then, enjoy the purest form of cricket this year in India.

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