IND vs ENG, 1st Test: India takes on England in hopes of maintaining home domination

Sport is a drama, and in Test cricket, the beauty, brilliance, and brutality are on full display. The game’s traditional format has once again sailed to the Indian shores as India takes on England in the first Test, with the first stop in Hyderabad, the amphitheatre being the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

On the evening of December 17, 2012, in Nagpur, England, under the command of Alastair Cook, dumped India in its own backyard as it celebrated its first Test series win on Indian soil since 1984–85.

Captain Cook was the last to fly home with the silverware, as since then, no team has ever won a Test series in the last 12 years, with India registering 16 straight series wins and losing just three Test matches. The Rohit Sharma-led side with a marvellous home record has the psychological advantage as Ben Stokes and his army crisscross the country for eight weeks, putting on an exhibition of its exhilarating Bazball brand of cricket with an aim to breach the Indian fortress.

The Big Picture: Dice loaded in India’s favour

India will look to continue its dominance, but its young batters need to lend stability and convert the starts. Rohit Sharma will be opening the batting with Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored a brilliant century on his debut against the West Indies.

However, the lens will be on Shubman Gill, as the talented youngster hasn’t scored a half-century since the last nine innings. Gill has the backing of coach Rahul Dravid and has an opportunity to stamp his authority at a venue where he scored a brilliant ODI double century against New Zealand last year.

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Virat Kohli’s absence means Gill and Shreyas Iyer have to share the bulk of the responsibility with India’s new crisis man, KL Rahul, manning the lower middle-order. The wicketkeeper’s spot will most likely be filled by K.S. Bharat, as Dhruv Jurel, who received his maiden Test call-up, might have to wait a little while before donning the whites.

India might include a third spinner in Axar Patel instead of Kuldeep Yadav, along with the hit duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Axar has a slight advantage over Kuldeep at the moment, as the all-rounder provides the batting depth and has a proven track record of scoring crucial runs down the order.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Siraj is likely to play his first Test at home, with Jasprit Bumrah being the pace spearhead.

Tough challenge awaits England

Even before the start of the series, England was handicapped with Harry Brook flying back and then had to deal with the unavailability of off-spinner Shoaib Bashir, who returned home due to a visa issue. Left-arm spinner Tom Hartley is set to make his Test debut and will partner leg spinner Rehan Ahmed, with Jack Leach being the leader of the spin attack.

England, declaring its playing XI, has opted to go with a three-spin attack and has included Mark Wood as the lone pacer. Wood’s ability to get the reverse swing into play and the extra pace secured him a place in the eleven, ahead of James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, and Gus Atkinson.

The batting will largely revolve around Joe Root, while openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett will aim to give the team a good start. With Ben Foakes returning to the side as a wicketkeeper, Jonny Bairstow will be playing as a specialist batsman. Along with marshalling his troops, Stokes will play a crucial role with the bat as England awaits trial by spin.

India Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (C), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, KS Bharat (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Axar Patel/Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah

England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (C), Ben Foakes (WK), Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach, Mark Wood

Source website: sportstar.thehindu.com

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