Bangalore: Despite India's new found success in the home series against Australia and the full strength England team losing to a second string Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) in a practice match (ODI) at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday, former Test cricketers feel that the visitors, who are here to play a seven-match ODI series and two Tests, cannot be taken lightly.
"After a 2-0 win against the world champions Australia, the hosts should not relax even a little bit thinking that they can beat any team at home. It would be foolishness to take the England team lightly as they have a better balanced side than the Australians had and the result in one practice match should not be the criteria to judge a team for the rest of the series," former stumper Kiran More told Cricketnext.com on Thursday.
"Agreed that the Indians will start as favourites for both the One-Day and Test series as they have the advantage of playing on home soil but the Kevin Pietersen's boys can spring a few surprises if they can get acclimatised to the sub-continent conditions fast. So the Indians should not be overconfident," he added.
"Their (England) pace attack has more experience than the Aussie attack and the biggest difference could be in the spin department. Off-spinner Saneet Patel has proved that he is a bowler to watch in One-Dayers while Monty Panesar has already established his credentials in the recent past. Their batting in One-Dayers can match the host's man for man," observed More.
More's substitute during their playing days, Chandrakant Pandit, agreed with former teammate but was at the same time confident that India can overcome England's challenge.
"Back to back series are always a bit tricky especially when you have tasted success by defeating the world champions by a 2-0 margin. One tends to get overconfident thinking they can beat any team in the world. So losing focus would be disastrous for the hosts. The Indians would do well if they can take up the next challenge with the same vigor and aggression because to be the world champions one has to be consistent," Pandit said.
"Moreover, Pietersen is a very shrewd captain, who can motivate his players with sheer example. He has solid support from his teammates and it would be very interesting to see two emerging skippers – Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Pietersen – in action even though I would like to think that the hosts has a slight edge over the Englishmen simply because they are on familiar territory," he added.
Another former Indian stumper Sadanand Vishwanath said despite the Indian team's morale being very high after their fluent 2-0 victory, they should not take England lightly as they were a much superior and well balanced team than the Aussies, whose inexperience was totally exposed.
"I think the England team is very well balanced with the right mix of experience and youth and India cannot afford to take them lightly. They have an experienced pace attack backed up by some very exciting batsmen. Their spin department too looks much better than what Australia could dish out. So the Indians should not be complacent while taking on the Englishmen," Vishwanath said.
"It is but natural that a back to back series is always taxing on the players. Luckily for the Indians they would be facing England in a One-Day series first after a Test series against the Aussies and almost a new set of players (One-Day specialists) would be seen in action. So they should take full advantage of it and try to field fresh legs for the One-Day series and then worry about the Test combination," he added.