The countdown has finally begun for one of the mouth-watering cricketing contests of recent times.
Virat Kohli and his boys are set to lock horns with Joe Root’s England in the first Test of the four-match series, beginning from Friday in Chennai.
This is the first international cricket series in India after nearly a year.
Naturally, expectations are sky-high from this all-conquering Indian team that breached the Gabba in a historic series recently.
But what makes the contest so enticing is that England are no pushovers.
Their pace bowling attack comprising the likes of Archer, Stokes and Anderson is ominous, to say the least.
Archer and Anderson have already got a good feel of bowling in the subcontinent thanks to their stints in the IPL and Sri Lanka, respectively.
Also, England’s confidence is at its peak, after mauling the Lankans on their home soil.
Make no mistake, India needs to be at its best to get the better of this English side!
The right team selection will matter. ‘Horses for courses’ as the bowling coach, Bharat Arun says.
Traditionally, the Chennai pitch has aided spin and accordingly, India might be going in with 3 spinners.
India’s expected team
Shubman Gill: The 21-year-old youngster was brilliant on the Australian tour with 259 runs from six innings.
Rohit Sharma: He provided good positive starts along with Gill. He is expected to dominate as the Indian pitches will not aid pace and swing like the pitches in England or Australia.
Cheteshwar Pujara: Puajara is the new wall of Indian cricket. His confidence will be high after his heroics against Australia.
Virat Kohli (c): He is at the cusp of a record. If he scores a ton in Chennai, he would be crossing Ponting in the list of captains with most international hundreds. Knowing Kohli, he will be looking forward to it.
Ajinkya Rahane: Rahane will be seen again in the role of Kohli’s deputy. His thrilling century in Australia would have beefed up his confidence.
Rishabh Pant: Pant is likely to gain the spot ahead of Wriddhiman Saha in the first Test, owing to his batting. His wicket-keeping might be in the spotlight, however.
Axar Patel: The left-arm spinner is almost certain to make his Test debut. Apart from his bowling that can generate good bounce, he is a handy batsman.
Ravichandran Ashwin: The undisputed leader of the spin attack will look to further embellish his brilliant home record.
Kuldeep Yadav: Bharat Arun has been grooming Kuldeep for this tour, for a long time. Now is the time for Yadav to show his quality.
Ishant Sharma: Might be preferred to Mohammad Siraj as the bowling squad is relatively lacking in experience. Plus, he enjoys Kohli’s backing.
Jasprit Bumrah: He has recovered from his abdominal sprain and will be raring to go.
India’s probable Eleven
: Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah