The excitement of test cricket returned last night, two fascinating series between some of the best teams in the world will run simultaneously. In my opinion India are the best team in the sub-continent and when they are on form they are almost unbeatable at home.
The question which should be asked is if England can take advantage of India's new batting line up. The retirement of Laxman and Dravid could be the chance that England have been waiting for. Add to this the poor form which Sehwag and Gambhir have been going through, India's well known batting strength could struggle.
England also have players such as Bairstow (even if he doesn't play), Bell and Pietersen who are all on form with the bat. Samit Patel looks the real deal as a test allrounder and the bowlers are pretty good. The good news for England is that Broad and Finn seem likely to be fit for the first test. Another factor that may favour the Englishmen is that they now have three genuine spinners. They could actually play all three in a match, not that I think they will. Over the winter England struggled against Ajmal and Hearth, so alot rests on Ashwin. We do not know how England will play Yadav but it is clear to see that Zaheer Khan is not the same bowler which has troubled world batsmen all these years.
I personally think that Sehwag and Gambhir had tons of experience so either or both of them will click very soon. The middle order has talent, even if they are inexperienced. Virat Kohli hasn't played that much but already looks like the real deal as a test player. I can only see this being a close series, but I think India may just edge it, even though England could cause India alot of problems.
The other series may not be as close. After day one of the first test South Africa are 255/2. The number one side in the world looked like that on day one. The ever reliable pair of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis should both score centuries tomorrow. This could be a hard day for Australia to come back from. The second day will be important for them. The pitch does look like a good batting wicket, but surely after South Africa are done with it, the pitch could change.
The loss of Shane Watson does not help to the cause. Saying all that I think if Watson was fit for the next few matches and Australia happened to find a good spinner from somewhere they could have made the series closer than it will be. One thing is clear though, Australia always have fighters in their team, people such as Peter Siddle and Ponting will battle hard.