Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen believes India will provide a stiffer examination than New Zealand as the two sides meet at Headingley for a one-off Test match (Match Betting – England 20/21, India 9/4, Draw 11/4).
India travelled to England last summer for a five-match series and the scoreline was 2-1 to the tourists going into the final Test.
However, an outbreak of Covid in the India camp meant the Test match was ultimately called off and now they are returning to finish off the job.
English cricket looks in a much healthier state now compared to last year though.
The Ben Stokes (pictured) era got off to a wonderful start as England cruised to a 3-0 series win against New Zealand with victory in the third Test earlier this week.
Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow excelled at the crease while Matt Potts and Jack Leach gave England’s bowling attack extra firepower to supplement the experience of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
England will now play their fourth Test match under the leadership of captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum against India, looking to salvage a draw from the five-match series.
Despite the feel-good factor around the red-ball side right now, Pietersen believes India will prove to be tough opponents and that England must raise their game.
“I certainly expect England to face a tougher test against India, who are packed full of the best players on the planet,” he said.
“India’s bowlers might not mind so much that England are going to come out swinging at them. Ravi Jadeja is an excellent spinner when people start getting after him and you can be sure that Jasprit Bumrah will see it as an opportunity, too.”
India have been dealt a blow in the build-up with the news that skipper and opener Rohit Sharma is set to miss the Test due to Covid.
He joins KL Rahul on the sidelines, missing due to a groin injury.
England are expected to go with the same squad that faced New Zealand though wicketkeeper Sam Billings is on standby after Ben Foakes was struck down with Covid.