`If India win first Test, England won`t be able to come back`

Mumbai: Former captain Sunil Gavaskar on Saturday said India will have an edge over England in the upcoming Test series if they manage to win the first match, but added that the hosts` batting line-up looks shaky.

"I have always believed that home teams have an edge. They are familiar with the conditions. They are able to be in the surroundings they are comfortable in. You know the pitch conditions.

"In 2011, England very vulnerable, Australia were very vulnerable. The first Test becomes an important factor. England won the first Test and Australia won the first Test. You derive strength from that. If India wins the first Test, I don`t think England will be able to come back," Gavaskar said.

He maintained that the batting looks depleted with the retirement of senior players like Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman and the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir struggling for form.

"The batting looks a bit shaky. The opening pair`s form doesn`t look that good. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have retired. Cheteshwar Pujara is new. The batting looks a bit weakened to what we had earlier.

"Just now the season has started... If the players are in form then even we can score 500-600 runs. In bowling Umesh Yadav is new. Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin`s combination has not become that popular. It is not the same attack we had a couple of years ago," he said.

Asked to predict the outcome of the series, Gavaskar hoped India would make a clean sweep.

"It is hard to predict but I hope so. I hope it is 4-0 against England and 4-0 against Australia. It is what we suffered in 2011," he said.

Gavaskar conceded that the opening pair is woefully out of form, but said it is premature to think about tinkering with it.

"It is good that there is competition because competition ensures that nobody takes his place for granted. We have got a set opening pair with Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. Unless the situation is dire, unless the situation is that somebody is so out of form, I don`t think we should be doing unnecessary changes.

"We have got a pair who understand each other, (it) is not an easy thing. It takes time for a new pair, new combination to settle. I think we should wait a bit before taking any decision," he said.

On the much-debated number six spot that is up for grabs, he said, "After Yuvi`s performance with not just the bat but also the five wickets, he gives the extra flexibility to the skipper. He brings in different angle of attack. Down the order at no.6 if he gets going, he can smash any attack.

"Yuvraj has made a case for himself. The way he bowled and the way he has batted. He brings another option. He gives the captain flexibility in terms of bowling and batting. One of England`s leading and dangerous batsmen Kevin Pietersen has been susceptible to left-hand spinner."

Asked about captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s form and trying out different captains for different formats, he said, "Dhoni`s form will not be a worry on Indian pitches. The Australian system of picking the best 11 and then choosing the captain I think is very good. None of the players have doubt about a person`s place in the team.

"As of now Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an automatic choice. If he is an automatic selection then he continues to be the captain. When he is not an automatic selection then you can look at somebody else being the captain."

On the proposed day-night Tests, he said, "This is something Sir Don Bradman spoke to me in 1977-78, he told me day-night Test matches would be soon.
"But if the ball is good and it doesn`t lose it`s colour and can be spotted at night, I think certainly day-night matches will come. The dew factor and everything else will have to be considered.

"The timings have to be chosen... Say in India you cannot play in November to January because the dew factor is quite high. But my feeling is when they talk about day-night matches it won`t be till 10 pm, it might be something that finishes at 8pm.

"I am not in ICC`s technical committee anymore so I don`t know about the timing," he said.


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