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Weather could help India turn up the heat

Sourav Ganguly says UK heatwave could tilt upcoming Test and ODI series in India's favour

Former skipper Sourav Ganguly says the unseasonably warm English weather gives India a golden chance to continue their winning ways on their tour of the UK.

The United Kingdom is currently sweltering through one of its hottest and driest summers in years; the BBC reported that last month was the driest June on record in south-east and central southern England, while Scotland also recorded its highest ever temperature of 33.2 degrees Celsius.

And with the warm weather continuing into July, Ganguly expects conditions for upcoming ODIs and Test matches could tilt both series in India's favour. 

"I have been travelling to England every year for the last 20-22 years and have not seen a summer like this," Ganguly wrote in his column for The Times of India after India won the T20 series 2-1.

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"It is very, very hot and the typical moist English conditions is a far cry from what it usually is. It is more like playing in India.

"The wickets are hard and batting friendly: the spinners are sure to enjoy bowling on these tracks.

"The challenge for England this series will be to handle the Indian spinners and this will be the decisive factor. England in England is always a strong opposition but this Indian team is a force to reckon with."

Another bonus for India heading into the five-match Test campaign is the fact the series will be played in August and September, later in the season when conditions tend to favour spinners due to wear and tear on playing surfaces.

The first of five Tests gets underway on August 1, just the second time in two decades that England have begun a home Test series so late in the summer.

The conditions could both limit the effectiveness of England’s swing bowlers, and bring India's star-studded spin attack into play. But just which of the visiting slow bowlers play in the Tests remains unclear.

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Finger spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja boast imposing Test records, especially in Asia, but the emergence of left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav in white-ball cricket has led to calls for him to be picked in the Test side as well.

Kuldeep has played just two Tests to date and took four first-day wickets against Australia in the decisive fourth Border-Gavaskar Test in March last year, his debut in five-day cricket.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has already suggested the left-armer could play a big role in the upcoming Tests, while former Australian spinner Brad Hogg - who has played alongside Kuldeep in the IPL and acted as a mentor for him in recent years - says the 23-year-old must be part of India's plans.

"Kuldeep provides the much-needed variety to the Indian spin attack and I would definitely have him in the squad," Hogg said on Wednesday.

"I feel Kuldeep attacks the stumps a lot more and his quick-arm action does bamboozle the opposition.

"English batsmen tend to sweep as they are scared to use their feet. Also, they don't pick the ball from the spinner's hand.

"He has a really potent wrong'un that foxes the batsmen. It's his biggest strength but he needs to use it wisely and sparingly. If he uses it too much then the batsmen will get used to it and start reading it."

A three-match ODI series begins at Trent Bridge on Thursday before the Tests get underway at Edgbaston next month.

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