England are fresh off a convincing win in Sri Lanka, but a new challenge awaits. A four-Test away series against India.
India meanwhile have returned home after completing a marvellous and quite honestly, miraculous series victory away from home against Australia, with essentially a second-string playing XI.
The trouble India find themselves in now is, who makes their playing XI for the first Test against England? Mohammed Siraj bowled his heart out and led a very inexperienced bowling attack in Australia with great pride and discipline. He surely must keep his place.
Regular captain, Virat Kohl is back after taking paternity leave for the birth of his first child, and this of course bolsters their batting, but questions have arisen on who should take the captaincy. Ajinkya Rahane proved just what a worthy captain he is, and how he led the players incredibly well. It’s great to lead a team that’s performing well and winning. But the true test of a captain is how they lead a team that’s down and out. That’s where Rahane thrived.
Neither team is the same as when they last met, five years ago, a series India comprehensively won 4-0. India no longer rely on just spin at home, they have found an excellent crop of young fast bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini & Siraj himself. They also have found some exciting and talented young batsmen in Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant, who showed tremendous character, confidence and skill in Australia.
England on the other hand have Ben Stokes, who over the past five years has developed his game to become a mature and responsible player and one of the best all-rounders the game has at the moment. Ben Stokes can singlehandedly change the course of a match, with either the ball or bat in his hand. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood being express pace to the table, something England have been missing for a while.
England captain Joe Root is set to play his 100th Test, and is currently in the midst of possibly the best from of his career, scoring 426 runs at 106.5 in the recent series against Sri Lanka. Root’s experience of playing in India is priceless and his record in India is impressive, averaging 53 in the six Tests he has played there. His ability to play spin and bat long periods of time lays the foundation England build their innings around.
The MA Chidambaram Stadium is a fortress for India, having not lost a Test at this ground for the past 22 years. The last time they did lose was to arch-rivals, Pakistan in 1999. England, who have won 3 of their last six away series would do well to storm the fortress. Only time will tell if they can.
The first Test starts on Friday 5th February at 6am, with the toss at 5:30am.