England vs India predictions: Stokes' men to clinch victory

Warren Ashurst
Ben Stokes has made a successful start to life as England's Test captain
Ben Stokes has made a successful start to life as England's Test captain

A 3-0 series win over New Zealand gave England's new leadership team the dream start and they face another stern examination when they return to action tomorrow.

India are the opponents in a resheduled Edgbaston Test, which was due to be held at Old Trafford at the end of last summer.

It is another quality rival for Brendon McCullum's side as the tourists are second in the world rankings and hold a 2-1 series lead after the four meetings last year.

Confidence high in England camp

The manner of the series victory over the Black Caps that will have pleased skipper Ben Stokes most, with England chasing down 299 in the Second Test before making light work of the 296-run target in the final meeting at Headingley.

With the appointment of McCullum as coach, it is clear that England want to go down a positive route, highlighted by the quick scoring and audacious shots played against the Kiwis.

Although England have dropped down the rankings over the last couple of years, they are always strong at home — losing just four of their last 15 Tests on their own shores.

With key players back fit and on form, the hosts can make the most of the favourable English conditions against an India team who have not had much preparation time.

The tourists have played just one tour game to get ready for the five-day encounter at a ground where they have never won a Test.

There have been seven contests between England and India at Edgbaston, with the hosts wining six and the other ending in a draw.

Anderson return could be key

James Anderson will be hoping to get back among the wickets against India
James Anderson will be hoping to get back among the wickets against India

One massive plus for England is the return to fitness of leading wicket-taker James Anderson, who was a doubt due to an ankle injury.

The problem kept him out of the Third Test against New Zealand, but the Lancastrian has been passed fit and will replace Jamie Overton in the bowling attack.

Anderson has a mammoth 651 Test wickets to his name and has taken more against India (133) than any other international team.

Ben Foakes pulled out of the side during the win at Headingley and he is not fit enough to return for this encounter, so Sam Billings will keep wicket with England's selectors keen for Jonny Bairstow to concentrate on his batting.

Issues for India

The tourists have their own problems heading to Birmingham with batter KL Rahul, who has just undergone hernia surgery, out of action for at least three months.

Fellow opener and captain Rohit Sharma has also been ruled out and that will add more pressure to former skipper Virat Kohli, who had been in charge of the tourists last summer before stepping down after defeat in South Africa.

Kohli, who has five centuries to his name against England, has not scored three figures in a Test match since late 2019 — 17 outings in total — during which time he has averaged 28.

Jasprit Bumrah will lead the side in his maiden stint as captain at any level of representative cricket — the first fast bowler to lead India since Kapil Dev in 1987.

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