Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook was the star of the 2012 series victory for his team in IndiaReuters

With South Africa getting humiliated in their recent tour to India, a question has arisen: Is there any side in the world that can defeat the Indian Test team on their home soil? The last time India suffered a home series loss was in 2012, at the hands of Alastair Cook-led England. Prior to that, their previous Test series defeat in their own backyard came against the all-conquering Australian team in 2004.

When and how will this juggernaut be stopped? Most importantly, who will do it? South Africa has already shown that they are incapable. West Indies, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are not yet potent enough to pull off such a triumph. Pakistan isn't going to tour India due to political problems.

That leaves us with just three teams: England, New Zealand and Australia. The first two earned surprising series wins in Asia late last year, England against Sri Lanka and New Zealand vs Pakistan. Australia, on the other hand, has the only Test victory over India in India since 2012 – at Pune in 2017.

So, which one of these teams can beat India in India? How strong is that possibility in regard to each one of them?

joe root, england
Root has to lead the way if England are to win in IndiaReuters

In part one of this series, we look at England

One of the biggest shocks of 2018 was England's whitewash of Sri Lanka in the latter team's home soil. But this was less about England's improvement and more about the decline in Sri Lanka's fortunes at that stage.

However, England does have, in the form of Joe Root, a batsman who can score big in Asian conditions. A crucial hundred he scored in that Sri Lankan series is regarded by many as his finest. Even in India, his record isn't bad. In the six matches the England captain has played here, he has scored a half-century or more in each of them. One of those knocks was a hundred.

But the other batsmen can't be relied on too much. Perhaps Jos Buttler can be a useful player. He has the experience of playing in the IPL and also that uncanny knack of getting runs in all conditions. One batsman that seems to be good in Indian conditions is Moeen Ali. He scored two hundreds in the 2016 series here. Ben Stokes too got a good hundred on that occasion and can be expected to show real fight.

But what about the bowling attack? Jimmy Anderson failed miserably in India on the last tour and didn't help his cause by suggesting that it is because of pitches that he is unable to get Virat Kohli out.

Jofra Archer
Archer could make a difference to the English bowling attackTwitter/ECB

However, if England tour India now, they will have the power of Jofra Archer. He has that one quality that English attacks have missed previously: pace. With his raw speed, he could create problems for the batsmen in all conditions. Ben Stokes too, is someone who finds a way of getting wickets. He has a six-fer in India and has only improved since 2016.

Lastly, what about the spin attack? The duo of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid failed miserably in the 2016 series. But Ali has a great record against India in England. His problem seems to be the inability to cope with the pressure of being the top spinner in the side. When England come to India next, perhaps he can be made to be a second spin option, alongside Jack Leach.

In the last year, Leach has emerged as a very reliable bowler. While he hasn't taken a bucket-load of wickets at eye-popping averages, he has often done the job expected of him. The left-arm spinner is likely to be a useful asset in Indian conditions. With him at the helm of the spin attack, perhaps Moeen can come into his own and bowl to his potential.


So, England is capable of beating India in India but they will have to play out of their skins. The batsmen will have to rise to the challenge like they haven't done before and the captain, most importantly, has to lead the way, as Alastair Cook did in 2012.

Archer could be the x-factor but he alone won't be enough. Other bowlers have to find ways of getting wickets, as Stokes does. Spinners too will have to produce their very best. History of the last few years shows that Indian batsmen can be vulnerable against good spin bowlers.

All this isn't easy but achievable for England. That's the best that can be said about the English team's chances of winning in India.