India will kick off the international cricket at home with a final WTC assignment against England. This series will decide the second finalist for the WTC Finals.
Match Timings: Feb 05, 9:30 AM IST
The much-awaited India-England series will start from Friday in Chennai and this series will play an important role to decide the second finalist for the World Test Championship 2019-21. New Zealand have already qualified for the finals which will be played between June 18 and June 22. India are the firm favourites to win to grab the second spot in the finals. If India have to qualify, they have to win this series 2-0, 3-0, 3-1, or 4-0 and on the other hand, England have to play out of its skin to qualify for the finals. Visitors have to beat India in the series with at least two wins for Lord’s. Team India are highly boosted after a remarkable success in Australia when the young guns under Rahane won the second consecutive Test series in Australia. In the previous series, India got so many match-winners and few injured players have also been included. The skipper Kohli will be back to lead the side.
Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya are back after injuries. R Ashwin and Bumrah have also recovered after missing out the historic Gabba Test. Pant’s heroics in the last two Tests in Australia assured his place in the eleven and India will use him as the wicket-keeper batsman. It means Saha will be dropped. India would pick three spinners in the squad considering the spin at Chepauk. R Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav will be two front-line spinners along with Gabba’s hero Washington Sundar. Ashwin and Sundar can also bat at lower-order which will help the Indian side to better its tail. Rohit Sharma and Gill will open for India after two half-century stands in Australia. Rohit has great numbers at home and Gill impressed in his debut series. Pujara and Rahane will now get the support of the skipper Kohli which makes this Indian batting lineup pretty strong. Six proper batsmen, three spinners, and two pacers are the possible lineups for India.
Meanwhile, England are confident after whitewashing Sri Lanka and Joe Root are still unbeaten in Asia as captain. England found match-winners since their last visit to India. They suffered a 4-0 loss in the previous series under Cook and in the last decade, England were the only team who emerged victorious in India. In 2012, England defeated India 2-1 to secure Test series win. Since then, India lost just one Test and it’s an incredible record. England’s captain is in tremendous form and he scored two centuries in the last series. He made his debut in 2012 against India and won the series for England. Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are also back in the squad after missing out the Sri Lanka series. England will surely take the WTC finals in mind and Root would try to mark some impact in the first two Tests ahead of the Pink-Ball Test in Motera.
The batting lineup would be a big concern for England but we have seen some performances from Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, and Crawley in the last two years. Burns got a hundred in Ashes and Crawley scored 267 against Pakistan in the last home-series. Dom Sibley got a hundred against West Indies last year. On the Eve of the first Test, Crawley also suffered an injury and he has been ruled out of the first two Tests. Joe Root was the only performer in the last series and England struggled with its top-order. Jos Buttler would also have a big responsibility. He had won England a Test in Lord’s last year with a fighting century. Either Broad or Anderson will feature in the match. Jofra Archer will lead the pace attack. Dom Bess and Jack Leach will be two front-line spinners. If Moeen Ali is fit, he will also be part of English eleven. It’s a tough task for England to outplay India in Chennai as England lost the last two Tests here despite scoring 400.
Chepauk Stadium is a good batting surface. There will be little bit of grass on it. Spinners will play a major role later the match progresses. Batting in the fourth innings would be a tough task. Morning sessions can draw some help to pacers.
Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Joe Root (C), Moeen Ali, Dom Bess, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Olly Stone, Jack Leach, Ben Stokes, Dom Sibley, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad/James Anderson
Home Tests – Innings: 20, Runs: 1325, Avg: 88.33
WTC 2019-21 – M: 9, Wickets: 35, Avg: 26.51
WTC 2019-21 – M: 16, Runs: 1292, Avg: 47.85
WTC 2019-21 – M: 13, Runs: 1131, Avg: 53.85