Former pacer Stuart Broad says the ongoing India-England Test series is the most evenly-matched contest that he has seen between the two sides but the visitors have a strong chance of emerging triumphant as the "fire, passion and competitiveness" of Virat Kohli is missing from the home team's arsenal.
Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the just-concluded SA20, where he was a commentator, Broad said the absence of Kohli due to personal reasons is a downer but the matches so far have been engrossing. The five-match series is locked 1-1 and the two teams will now square off in the third game in Rajkot, beginning February 15.
"(The) first two matches were very competitive and it is one of the most exciting India-England Test series that I have seen. It is the most level series," he said.
"India won the last Test but England's playing style ('Bazball') is quite effective in India. With Virat not in the team, it is a great opportunity for the England team," he added.
Broad feels Kohli's break has also opened a window of opportunity for the youngsters in the Indian team to make a name for themselves.
"Shame for the series" - Stuart Broad on Virat Kohli's absence
"The battle between Virat and England bowlers had been great in the past. (James) Anderson and Kohli's battles are quite famous. It's a shame for the series and the sport that he will be missing," he observed.
"...Virat adds to the quality of any contest because he is such a wonderful player who brings fire, passion, competitiveness and great fan following to the sport. But personal matters always take preference over cricketing matters," he said.
"Seamers had a lot more success" - Stuart Broad
Broad said he is also very happy with the performance of his former new-ball partner James Anderson on India's unresponsive tracks. Anderson replaced Mark Wood in the second Test at Visakhapatnam and picked up five wickets.
"We saw in the second Test, seamers played an important role with Jasprit Bumrah giving a match-winning performance and Jimmy bowling like that on those pitches. Everyone expected that the pitch might spin a little bit more but seamers had a lot more success. Maybe with the moisture in the morning," he said.
England have a major concern ahead of the 3rd Test as left-arm spinner Jack Leach has been ruled out of the entire series due to knee injury.