India will embark on a five-Test series against England next week, looking to banish the painful memories of the nation's last trip to English shores in 2011.
On that occasion, the visitors were dealt a 4-0 hammering from a rampant home side, marking one of the darkest periods in India's cricketing history.
Additionally, MS Dhoni's men come to England seeking their first Test victory outside of India in three years, highlighting the enormity of the task facing the tourists this summer.
But are there any positives for India to build on ahead of the series? Is there any evidence to suggest that India are capable of upsetting the hosts to claim a famous series victory?
Below is a collection of data hinting that a Pataudi Trophy triumph is possible for Dhoni's team.
Misconception of India's Record in England
Although India's tour of England in 2011 contained a ludicrously lopsided Test series, the team's history on English shores is actually quite respectable.
In the seven series contested between the two nations in England between 1979 and 2007, the visitors left triumphant on two occasions (1986 and 2007) and earned a series draw in another (2002).
Additionally, the four series that India lost in that period all finished at 1-0, emphasising the fact that—excluding the disaster of 2011—India haven't been blown away in England at all.
|India's Record in England 1979-2007|
The record above also disputes the concept that India must regularly claim 20 English wickets to win the series.
Given that 14 of the last 23 Tests contested by the teams in England have resulted in a draw, it's possible that India could win this summer's series with one victory and four draws, thereby capturing the trophy despite only bowling England out twice in one Test.
India's New Generation
India's abysmal record in Tests away from home since mid-2011 (10 losses and four draws) has led many to believe that Dhoni's men stand little chance in England this summer.
Missing the nation's previous generation of batting superstars and lacking incisive bowlers, the Indian team, on paper, doesn't appear to pose the same threat that some of the country's previous outfits once did.
However, much of India's dire form away from home in recent years can be traced back to the nation's uncomfortable transition from one era to another.
Despite the need for an injection of youth, India persisted with the ageing batting core of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman. Even as the cornerstones of the team began to show signs of slowing down, the reluctance to move on the country's heroes cost India dearly when playing away from home—particularly in England in 2011 and in Australia in 2011-12.
|Batting Records for India's Stars in 2 Years Prior to July 2013|
India's capacity to win Tests away from home has always been dependant on the team's ability to compile massive totals and bat their opponents out of the game. As the records above show, India simply weren't able to do that during the decline of the nation's superstars between 2011 and 2013.
Now, however, India have arrived on the other side of that transition, having replaced the superstar quartet with a younger collection of supreme talents.
And whereas the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag and Laxman were trending the wrong way in the latter stages of their careers, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are beginning to reverse the fortunes of India's perennial strength—the middle order.
|Form of India's Middle Order Since July 2013|
Since capturing the 2013 Ashes series with victory at Chester-le-Street last August, Alastair Cook's England have endured a truly horrific run of form, recording six losses and two draws in their last eight Tests to suffer the nation's longest winless streak since 1996-97.
|England's Test Results Summary in Previous 12 Months|
But England's decline goes well beyond results.
From a statistical standpoint, Cook's side has been outplayed in every aspect of the game, even when the 2013 Ashes triumph at home is included.
For an outfit that rose to prominence on the back of meticulous planning and data analysis, the following numbers make for rather dire reading.
|England's Test Statistical Summary in Previous 12 Months|
While India's transition to a new era is beginning to give evidence that it's trending upward (reflected by the batting statistics above), the same can't be said for England in the first phase of a similar transition.
England's Contrasting Preparations for 2011 and 2014 Series vs. India
As alluded to previously, England's annihilation of India in 2011 had a profound effect on the way the public perceived the Indians' capacity to succeed away from home and the team's eagerness—or lack thereof—to compete in unfamiliar surrounds.
But it needs to be recognised that India's visit to English shores that year represented something of a perfect storm for the home side.
At a time when the tourists were enduring the initial stages of decline, Andy Flower's England were surging to almost unprecedented levels with a new-found and unrelenting excellence.
Indeed, examining the records of England's players in the 12 months prior to that 2011 series reveals how rampant Andrew Strauss' team had been in the lead up to that summer.
|England Batsmen Form in 12 Months Prior to 2011 Series vs. India|
|England Bowlers' Form In 12 Months Prior to 2011 Series vs. India|
It was no surprise then that it was Ian Bell, Cook and Kevin Pietersen who thumped 1,385 runs between them in that series to utterly humiliate India's bowlers.
With a wealth of bowling options to chose from, too, it also wasn't surprising that England's seamers regularly ripped through the tourists' batting line-up, with James Anderson (21 wickets) continuing his brilliant form and Stuart Broad (25 wickets) elevating his game to take the team's attack to a new level.
Now, compare those numbers to the records of England's players in the 12 months leading up to this summer's series.
Of those who've played more than three Tests, only Bell and Joe Root are averaging in excess of 40 with the bat, while with the ball, only Broad is claiming his wickets at less than 30 runs apiece.
|England Batsmen Form in 12 Months Prior to 2014 Series vs. India|
|England Bowlers' Form in 12 Months Prior to 2014 Series vs. India|
Quite simply, unlike in 2011, when England entered their series with India on the back of blistering form, Cook's men are carrying scarcely anything—other than a string of poor performances—into this summer's encounter.
The 1st Test: India's Opportunity
With England in the midst of a tumultuous period that has witnessed a wave of public apathy for the team, India's best chance to grab the initiative of the series lies in the opening Test at Trent Bridge.
Fresh from slumping to defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka, England will enter this summer's five-Test campaign without the sense of superiority they've carried into most series for the better part of five years.
India, therefore, will be delighted to be catching the hosts amid such circumstances, boosting the visitors' chances of seizing an early lead.
And if Dhoni's men take a quick look at England's series record at home after losing the opening Test, they'll genuinely believe the Pataudi Trophy is there for the taking.
|England's Test Series Record at Home After Losing First Test|
|1st Test Losses||Series Wins||Series Draws||Series Losses|
Combine those numbers with the others already presented and an Indian victory in England this summer isn't as unlikely as it may seem.
All statistics and match data courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo.
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