Euro 2020 Special
 

Cricket Comes Home: India vs England First Test Preview

Just weeks after pulling-off a performance for the ages in their tour down-under, a confident India will face Joe Root’s England squad at home to seal a spot in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship. The series has all the qualities to be an exciting contest, similar to the one we recently witnessed in Australia.

Here’s our preview for the first Test of the India-England series:

 

ADVANTAGE INDIA

India will undoubtedly start as the overwhelming favourites in the tournament – given their recent dominance of the longest-format of the game, and the advantage of playing at subcontinental pitches. India’s squad is also bolstered by the return of skipper Virat Kohli, who had to miss the last three Tests. His presence in the top-order along with the inclusion of Hardik Pandya as a lower-order specialist batsman in the squad makes India’s batting line-up bullet-proof.

India’s bowling line-up, after an injury-ridden Australian tour, looks more solid now with the return of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin. India’s spin-friendly pitches might warrant the inclusion of another spinner in the final XI, and Virat Kohli has numerous options to choose from.

 

CAN ENGLAND PULL-OFF A MIRACLE?

537, 255, 283, 400, 477 – the first innings totals posted by England during their last tour of India in 2016, they levelled the first and lost the remaining four. The scale of India’s victories – they won by an innings in the last two Tests, goes on to show the steep wall that England have to climb even to level the Tests.

Joe Root’s incredible form in recent Tests is sure to give hope to the Englishmen. England’s top order, while brimming with potential, is on more shaky grounds than India’s – Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley are yet to test their mettle against the world’s best bowling attack. Explosive batsmen at the lower order in the form of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, along with the charismatic Jofra Archer will ensure fireworks if the pitches cooperate. England’s bowling squad is more robust, with stalwarts James Anderson and Stuart Broad leading the pace line-up, and Moeen Ali leading the spin department.

 

CROWDS TO MISS OUT

Fans will have to wait some more time before they can go back to a stadium – BCCI has decided that the first Test will take place behind closed doors, mainly to assuage England’s fears. Crowds will be allowed from the second Test, with 50% occupancy. If the safety protocols put in place during the series prove adequate, it will be good news for IPL teams as fans can enter the stadiums in the highly lucrative league.

 

EXPECT A RUN-FEST

The last Test between the teams at Chepauk produced India’s highest score against England – they declared after a first innings score of 759/7, with Karun Nair scoring a triple century. Much will depend on the toss and the first innings scores – with the pitches getting progressively harder to bat on as the days progress, an early advantage will be crucial to the outcome of the game. Joe Root and Virat Kohli will lock horns both on and off the pitch – the performances of the skippers with the bat are likely to be the most prominent attractions of the series.

 

MATCH PREDICTION

It will be advantage India – the hosts will look to seal their berth in the Championship final as soon as possible. Expect plenty of runs, with the skippers leading the way. Spinners are likely to dominate the bowling, but with some of the best seamers in action, do not brush off the pace department just yet. India are expected to take a 1-0 lead.

Pitch Report: While the pitches have decent grass presence, they are expected to deteriorate over the course of the Test, as is the case usually with Indian turfs. Expect a spin-friendly pitch that Indian batsmen are very comfortable playing on.

India Predicted XI: Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Washington Sundar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Ishant Sharma.

England Predicted XI: Zak Crawley, Rory Burns, Joe Root (C), Ben Stokes, Daniel Lawrence, Jos Buttler (WK), Stuart Broad, Dom Bess, Jack Leach, Jofra Archer, James Anderson.

When: February 5 – 9, 2021 (Friday- Tuesday) 09:30 AM (IST), 04:00 AM (GMT).

Where: MA Chidambaram Stadium(Chepauk), Chennai.

Where to Watch: All matches of the series will be telecast live on Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar.

 

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