Chennai: A buoyant and resurgent India will take on an equally confident England in the first of the two tests beginning at the M A Chidambaram Stadium here tomorrow, as International cricketing action is all
set to resume in the country, post the COVID pandemic.
India was high on morale after its 2-1 series win against Australia, after hitting the nadir 36 in the first test at Adelaide, before winning at Melbourne and breaching the Aussie’s Gabba Fortress to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, despite missing several key bowlers and players due to injuries and Skipper Virat Kohli, who took paternity leave.
England too would not be short on confidence as they flew to India straight from its 2-0 win over Sri Lanka, where the conditions were similar to the Indian conditions, with skipper Joe Root on high octane form having scored a big double hundred in the second test at Galle, all set to play his 100th test.
However, Kohli would be having some selection dilemma in picking the final XI as some of the injured players like
pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma and office R Ashwin returning to the side.
While Ishant missed the series Down Under due to injury, Bumrah and Ashwin missed the fourth test at Brisbane
due to injury concerns.
With the pitch traditionally assist the spinners here, Kohli would be tempted to play with two pacers and three spinners–Ashwin, wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav and office Washington Sundar, whose solid batting turned out to be very crucial at Gabba.
Kohli has to take a call who to pick–Ishant or Mohammed Siraj, who did well in Brsibane–to share the new ball
with Bumrah, who is certain to be in the playing XI.
India might stick with the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, whose solid technique came to the fore in Austrlia, with Cheteshwar Pujara at his favopute No.3 followed by Kohli and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane at
Rishab Pant, whose batting exploits in Australia came in for praise from all quarters, would be at No.7.
For England, though top order barsman Zak Crawley was ruled out and Surrey batsman Ollie Pope has recovered from shoulder injury and was available for selection.
In form skipper Root would lead from the Front and the batting revolves around Jos Butler, Rory Burns and opner
All rounder Ben Stokes and speedster Jofra Archer, who missed the Sri Lankan series, would be back in the
England was expected to go with three seam attack by including James Anderson and Stuard Broad, while Mooen
Ali, who scored a big hundred last time here, might lead the spin department either with young off spinner Dom
Bess or leftarm spinner Jack Leach.
When the two teams met here last time in December 2016, India riding on opener K L Rahul’s 199 and unbeaten triple hundred by Karun Nair won by an innings and 75 runs as the home team sealed the five match series 4-0.
Incidentally that was the last match played at the historic Chepauk stadium.
However, this time around, the first test would be held closed-doors in view of the corona pandemic, and 50 per
cent spectators and the media would be allowed for the second test starting on February 13 after the Tamil nadu
government allowed public viewing in sports events, including cricket from February one.
England team (from):
Joe Root (Captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone and Chris Woakes.
Indian team (from) :
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keepers), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur.