“England can win the Test series in India” – Rikki Clarke

England Test team (Photo: England Cricket)

Joe Root and Ben Stokes have been the pillars of England batting in recent times.

England all-rounder Rikki Clarke believes that the Joe Root-led England side can repeat the heroics of Alastair Cook’s team and beat India in the ongoing series. Clarke’s confidence stems from England’s rich form and balance. He’s confident that the side’s batting isn’t just reliant on their captain Joe Root and vice-captain Ben Stokes.

England beat India comprehensively in the first Chennai Test by 227 runs. In doing so, they won their first Test in India in over eight years. England have now won six consecutive overseas Tests. In contrast, despite the Australian riches, India have lost four on the trot under Virat Kohli’s captaincy.

In an exclusive interview with journalist Indranil Basu for SK Live, Rikki Clarke said:

“Yes (England can win the ongoing series in India). You have to look at the form. Under Virat Kohli, India have now lost four consecutive Tests. England have won six (overseas Tests) in a row, so you have to go on form. England are very confident.”

England won three Tests in South Africa last year before whitewashing Sri Lanka 2-0 in the latter’s den. A massive Chennai victory followed these wins. England also won their home series against West Indies and Pakistan.

To better manage the workload of cricketers, the England management have opted for a rotational policy. Rikki Clarke feels the new players coming in will look to seize the opportunity and seal their respective spots.

“England have won convincingly. But due to the rotational policy, there will be some changes. We will have to see how it affects the dynamics. However, the guys coming in will look forward to keeping the momentum and make a strong case for themselves in the side.”

Joe Root’s 218 and Ben Stokes’s 82 set up England’s win in the first Test. Root has been in tremendous form, slamming scores of 228, 186 and 218 in three months. However, Rikki Clarke believes England’s batting isn’t entirely dependent on their captain and vice-captain, and others will rise to the occasion when the moment arrives.

“No doubt Joe Root and Ben Stokes hold the key, but the others have earned their Test spot. They have done the job consistently at the domestic level.

“If we see the Sri Lanka tour, Dan Lawrence made a difference with his first knock. Dom Sibley got runs in the last Test. Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope got runs. Ben Foakes may come in for Buttler, and he got a century on Test debut in Sri Lanka a few years back.

“With that kind of form, Joe Root will undoubtedly be the prized wicket. Ben Stokes is always a prized wicket because of the way he plays and swings the game to England’s favour. They are both going to be the prized wickets. But that may be detrimental to the bowling side that they focus on these two wickets.

“Even if England lose Root early, this team has players who can still post a good total,” said the Surrey all-rounder, who played two Tests and 20 ODIs for England between 2003 and 2006.

England were the last side to beat India at home eight years back. Led by Alastair Cook, England won 2-1. The final Test of the series marked Joe Root’s debut.

The second Chennai Test starts on Saturday.

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