India will start as favorites after an exhilarating victory over Australia, overcoming all obstacles. When you add the name Virat Kohli to the batting order, the team suddenly assumes a bulletproof cloak. In also adding the names R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, and Ishant Sharma to the list of available players, India takes on an unbeatable appearance.
Likewise, England can point to improvements they can make to the side that won convincingly in Sri Lanka. The availability of a premium player in Ben Stokes who, like Pandya, provides all-round ability and selection flexibility, albeit at a higher level than the Indian, is a big plus. And Jofra Archer adds substantially to the quality of an already strong pace attack.
However, it’s the top of the England order, where another returning player, Rory Burns, will reside, that the scales tip in India’s favor.
India’s top three feature an impressive Shubman Gill, a talented but flawed Rohit Sharma, and the indomitable Cheteshwar Pujara, which places them well ahead of England’s top order.
Dom Sibley possesses the grit and determination required for success at the highest level but there are questions about his technique against the best international bowlers. In India and Australia, he will face two of the best in fairly quick succession so that question will be answered in the next 12 months.
Burns is another in the same category as Sibley, and if both players fail the challenges England will be in trouble unless Joe Root continues to score at his current freakish level.