With one of the most eagerly-anticipated test series this year set to begin tomorrow, it is getting increasingly difficult to decide who will come out as the eventual winners in the four-test series.
Many supporters and experts from both countries consider individual battles between the likes of Zaheer Khan vs. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Chris Tremlett vs. the formidable Indian middle order to be the ones that will dictate who wins the series.
While the above-mentioned battles will be very important, it is easy to forget that the less-established players in the teams, such as Abhinav Mukund, Praveen Kumar, Eoin Morgan, Suresh Raina and Stuart Broad, will also be part of their respective sides.
With the series being so close, it might come down to their contributions throughout the series.
The above-mentioned players are either new to the team or trying desperately to get back on form.
In either case, these players will be looking to prove a point to the respective team selectors, looking and hoping to cement their positions in the sides.
Here is why their respective performances will decide the eventual winners.
He performed better than his more-experienced opening partner Murali Vijay in the West Indies.
He will have more than done his job if he manages to outperform Gautam Gambhir.
Its not exactly the number of runs that he scores that will matter but probably the number of deliveries he faces. His primary job will be to last long enough to see off the new ball and thereby shielding the formidable Indian middle order from the new ball, which will more than likely result in big runs on the board for India.
Having been in the team for a while now, one would expect there to be no extra pressure on Suresh Raina.
But with the kind of performance Yuvraj had during the recent World Cup, the selectors are probably itching to give Yuvraj one last chance in the test lineup.
Who out of these player will have the biggest impact on the series?
He has been known to be susceptible to the short ball, but a good performance in this series should put that theory to bed. Raina will be expected to play around the lower order of the Indian bowlers to increase the Indian total.
He performed beyond expectations in the West Indies, albeit against a relatively weaker batting lineup.
If called upon, PK would need to perform well to provide good back up to Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma. His primary job will be to make sure that he doesn’t give away easy runs to let the pressure off the English batsmen.
Stuart Broad has recently been taking a lot of flak from the media.
His place in the side, once considered very secure, is now very much under threat.
With a series return of eight wickets against the Sri Lankans, he did himself no favours.
If England are to win the series, they can afford to carry any passengers in the side. Stuart Broad can potentially add a lot to this English side, as he is a good bowler when on form, an adequate batsman when confident and a fierce competitor on the field.
He will hope to be in the starting 11 for Lords.
Eoin Morgan has had a great start to his international cricket career, and he will be hoping he can keep that form going.
He will have a similar role to that of India’s Suresh Raina and will know at the back of his mind that if he fails in this series the selectors might revert to Ravi Bopara.
His contributions will be very important for the sake of this series, as when (or if) the English top-order batsmen fail, it will be imperative that he curbs some of his flamboyant shots and fights it out in order to get as many runs on the board as possible.
I believe the heavyweights in both teams to be evenly matched.
Therefore, it might come down to the performances of these players to decide who wins this eagerly-awaited series.