ENG vs IND | 1st Test Preview: Unsettled sides chase different objectives to kick off next WTC cycle

Mayank Kumar

Mayank Kumar

Author| Aug 3, 10:11 AM

Photo Credits: Twitter
Photo Credits: Twitter

The wait is over. India and England are all set to wrestle over a five-match long Test series that will test all their might and perseverance. 

Both sides love Test cricket and in between Virat Kohli and Joe Root, it's the former who takes the format very personally. He has not hidden his emotions and meaning wrt to Test cricket and hence the series will tell a lot about his captaincy. 

After years of struggle and falling short, India have been able to cope with the bounce and pace of Australian pitches and at the same time have started producing bowlers who have asked some tough questions of the once-mighty Australians. 

India have only gone up in their stature as a touring team. However, if there is one country they have been found out is England where their batsmen have not been able to cope up with the moving ball. 

England tours in the past have left a lasting legacy of players or stamped their mediocrity. Fair to say, the series starting on Wednesday will set the legacy of Virat Kohli, the captain. 

India have a very good chance to win a series in England after a long wait. However, they have been here before with similar opportunities and have been guilty of letting that go.

England have been significantly weakened by the absence of Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes. Captain Joe Root is in desperate search of runs to keep his head safe in the Ashes year. 

English batting order is significantly inexperienced and also short on confidence after a disastrous home series against New Zealand. India should look to exploit every bit of crack present in England's batting lineup to keep them under pressure.

England vs India: Match Details

Match Number- 01

Date and Time: August 04-08, 2021, 3:30 pm IST, 10:30 Local, 10:00 GMT

Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham

Broadcast and Live Stream: SonyLIV, Sony Six

Pitch and weather

Historically, the pitch at Trent Bridge is known to aid pacers but it has had a fair share of flat pitches as well. The ground has seen Australia folding out inside the first session with Stuart Broad running mayhem, while it has also seen half-centuries from James Anderson and Mohammed Shami on the docile pitch in the 2014 Test.

With the bowling reserves they have, none of the sides will be hoping for a flat surface. However, Kohli’s India won’t mind batting first on a slower surface where they can unleash the spin twins of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin in the second innings.

The weather should hold the rain long enough for the sides to enforce a result. The first and the last day of the Test should be clear of all the rains while on the remaining three days, the chances of precipitation are around 30 per cent as per BBC weather.

Team News

England

England were already without the reliability of Chris Woakes in English conditions and now Ben Stokes’ absence will cost them the balance as well. They would be delighted to have Ollie Robinson, who can mimic Woakes in terms of bowling length and line hitting the top of off, but Stokes’ absence will hurt them dearly.

The English top order except Rory Burns will be under huge pressure after a quiet series against New Zealand and Dom Sibley, in particular, will be hoping for a return to form.

The injury cloud over Ollie Pope will also offer Jonny Bairstow another opportunity to resurrect his Test career that appeared over earlier in the year.

England would hope Sam Curran will bring much-vaunted all-round skills with him while the return of Jos Buttler will boost the team’s flamboyance factor both in front and behind the wicket.

Both James Anderson and Stuart Broad should start the series and it would leave England to think again over the question of having a spinner in the playing XI. Jack Leach had expressed his frustration over missing out in the series against New Zealand and his return to the playing XI can’t be ruled out.

Probable XI

Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (C), Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (WK), Sam Curran, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach

India

The injuries saga that started on the tour of Australia has not ended for India on this tour as well with as many as three players being ruled out of the entire tour. 

To add to the selection problems and conundrums, opener Mayank Agarwal, who was all set to get back in the playing XI in place of Shubman Gill has been ruled out of the first Test following a blow on the head by Mohammed Siraj.

Agarwal’s absence will open up many questions for the team management over the second opener to partner Rohit Sharma. They would be tempted to ask Cheteshwar Pujara to open for a Test in order to accommodate one of KL Rahul or Hanuma Viharin in the middle order. 

Rahul scored a flawless century in the practice game and should walk into the XI if the team management opts for a makeshift opener in Pujara. Or, Vihari, too, can be tipped to open the batting for a Test.

India’s bowling department came under strict scanner after the loss against New Zealand in the World Test Championship and there were questions raised on whether playing both Jadeja and Ashwin was a luxury. However, India are unlikely to separate the two and both of them will follow Rishabh Pant at the number seven and eight respectively in the batting order.

There were questions around Mohammed Siraj as well as Indian bowling attack failed to extract as much purchase off the pitch as their Kiwi counterparts. However, like the spinners, the team management is likely to start the series with the well-oiled trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.

Probable XI

Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul/Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah

Fantasy XI 

J Buttler, R Pant, R Sharma, J Root, Virat Kohli (C), R Burns, R Ashwin, J Anderson (VC), I Sharma, M Shami, S Broad 

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