Batting in India for a visiting batsman calls for a certain amount of toughness and resilience. You often have to swim against the flow of the game and still have runs against your name.
Rory Burns of Surrey and England is nothing if not a battler. Not the most attractive of openers, the southpaw, nevertheless, collects useful runs off his legs and through covers.
The 30-year-old Burns has a sound defence and doesn’t play deliveries he does not have to. Making his debut in 2019 at Galle, Burns has 1233 runs in 21 Tests at 32.44, with two hundreds, one in the Ashes Test at Birmingham and the other in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Despite just 20 runs in his last four Test innings, against Pakistan, and missing the recent Test series in Sri Lanka owing to a paternity leave, Burns is the first-choice opener for England.
In the first Test beginning here on Feb. 5, Burns and Dominic Sibley are likely to be the English opening combination.
Burns is aware the present Indian attack is not just about spin. The side can hurt with its pacemen too and none is more lethal than Jasprit Bumrah.
He said in a zoom chat here on Thursday, “Bumrah is quite a hard man to prepare for, isn’t he? He is obviously unique in terms of how he comes in and bowls. It would just be about working those angles.”
Burns caught some of the gripping action between India and Australia on television back home and said, “India are in a pretty handy form, not necessarily their first playing XI at different points, but still, they managed to get over the line against Australia, it is just going to be a big challenge in their own conditions, looking forward to it.”
The opener felt the English spinners would do well not to put pressure on themselves. “Dom Bess and Jack Leach got into their groove bowling in Sri Lanka. I do not think they should be putting any expectations on themselves.”
Talking about the pitches, he said, “The pitches might be a little seamer friendly early on, looking at India’s seam attack. Day-night Test is also there, so the pitch might be a little different,”
Burns added, “I think we will get good cricket wickets that will spin as the game goes on. I have drawn on various people’s experience who I have worked with, what they tend to suggest about India is opposed to Sri Lanka, which is slightly fast forward from the start with regards to spin. [We are] Preparing in that respect,”
Dwelling on the tight schedule and only three days of practice before the first Test, Burns said, “It is obviously a challenge. We have three days to work around. Then it’s a mental switch really. I have been around for a while now so I have some experience to draw from,”
Leader by example
Burns had words of praise for skipper Joe Root. “Root obviously leads from the front, you have seen that in the Test series against Sri Lanka, it was incredible to see him go about his business. He is a leader by example, in terms of how he captains the team, he is an easy bloke to follow.”
And Burns, the left-hander with the right attitude, will have a crucial role at the top of the order.