With the opening two Tests scheduled to be played at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, Team India is all set to begin their home season with a four-Test series against England. The first test starts on Friday (5 February) and marks the return of international cricket to the country after the BCCI was prevented from hosting any sort of cricket since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four-Test series is vital for both sides, with New Zealand having already qualified as the first team in the final of the ICC World Test Championship which will be played in Lord’s in June 2021.
Virat Kohli, who missed the last three Tests against Australia, is back to lead the team. Senior pacer Ishant Sharma, who is just 3 caps short of his 100th Test match, is also back and will lead the pace attack along with Jasprit Bumrah.
The series will also mark R Ashwin’s comeback into the playing XI. The senior spinner had missed the fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
India will have to produce any one of the following results: 4-0, 3-0, 3-1 or 2-0 in their bid to join Kane Williamson and his New Zealand side in the inaugural WTC Finals this summer.
On the other hand, the Three Lions recently thrashed Sri Lanka 2-0 in the Test series, but India will possess a much more formidable challenge. Meanwhile, England have to make a choice between ace pacers Stuart Broad and James Anderson and it’s almost certain that Dom Sibley and Rory Burns will open for the team as Zak Crawley has been ruled out of the first two Tests due to an injury.
The numbers will be similar, but more daunting for the visitors, who will have to pull off series victories with margins of either 3-0, 3-1, 2-1 or 4-0 to set up a repeat of the exciting ODI World Cup 2019 final at Lord’s.
Before heading into this fixture lets check out the pitch report and weather conditions in Chennai.
Chennai Weather Conditions
Chennai will be hot and sultry on all the five days and as per weather forecast there are no chances of rain. England should be used to these conditions by now, coming from Sri Lanka on their last tour.
Chennai can get incredibly hot in the afternoons and this will test the fitness of the players with a high of 30 degrees expected. Owing to the weather, the conditions can be quite conducive to reverse swing and the pitch also dries up, which assists the spinners.
MA Chidambaram Stadium: Pitch Report
The pitch is likely to start off as one that is good for batting, but then break up as the Test goes on. Temperatures are expected to be in the 30s throughout the Test, so the very hot conditions will contribute to the spinners having a say throughout the game.
India vs England Predicted Playing XI
India Predicted XI for first Test:
Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma
England’s Predicted XI for first Test:
Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Dan Lawrence, Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Jack Leach, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad
India & England Squad
Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Axar Patel, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav
Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes
India vs England Broadcast & Streaming Details
Broadcast: Star Sports Network.
Live Streaming: Hotstar App & Website, Disney App & Website