On Thursday, the first Test kicks out in Hyderabad. Instead of playing a tour game in India, England made the decision to prepare for the visit in Abu Dhabi.
Of the England team, only Jack Leach is an accomplished spinner; the other three are Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir, and Rehan Ahmed.India have Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel.
“I think India will win. Their spinners are better than England’s and that will be the defining thing in the end,” Atherton told Sky Sports.
England last won a series in India back in 2012 when Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar outbowled their Indian counterparts.
“If you go to India, spin will play a big part, it historically has done and I suspect it always will do. India do have a very strong seam attack as well,” said Atherton.
“India’s four spinners are very different to England’s. They have two left-arm finger spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. They have a wrist spinner in Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin is one of the greatest spinners of all time.
“England have a solid left-arm spinner in Jack Leach and then three very inexperienced spinners after that with Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir and Rehan Ahmed.
“It will be a particular challenge for them but the selectors see a high ceiling for them,” he added.
The pitches are expected to turn from day one in India, providing a massive test also for the England batters.
(With PTI inputs)