Ends: High Court End, Pavilion End
Home Team: Bengal
Curator: Probir Mukherjee
Test History: 37 Tests; 10 home wins; 8 away wins; 19 draws
Last 10 Tests: 6 home wins; 2 away wins, 2 draws
Last 10 Tosses: 10 batted first (4 wins, 4 defeats, 2 draws)
Described by many as the 'Lord's of Asia', Edens Gardens is undoubtedly one of the finest cricket cathedrals in the world.
Legend has it that George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, wanted his two sisters to grow up in an atmosphere of unfettered joy in nature, and earmarked the present day Eden Gardens for them to enjoy. The Eden sisters nurtured this garden, which surrounds and includes the site of the cricket stadium, with utmost care and devotion. When they had to leave they presented Eden Gardens as a gift to the people of Kolkata.
The first ever Test match played here was against Douglas Jardine's England in 1934. Since then the ground has hosted 36 more Test matches - more than any other venue in India. The ground was also the venue for the final of the 1987 World Cup between Australia and England, which was won by the Aussies.
More memorable is the fact that it was the venue for India's greatest ever comeback, when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid batted out an entire day to turn a Test match against Australia in 2001. Steve Waugh had enforced the follow-on, but ended up regretting it as India went on to win the match by 171 runs.
However, things have not always been rosy at Eden Gardens - games against the West Indies in 1966, Australia in 1969 and Sri Lanka during the 1996 World Cup semi-final were marred by unfortunate incidents such as riots and crowd trouble.
Nonetheless, it remains the cricketing temple of India, and while the official capacity is stated to be 90,000 that figure has often been exceeded, creating an atmosphere that few cricket grounds can claim to rival. The stadium itself is shaped like a giant, shallow bowl, and has imposing, distinctive floodlights which tower over it.
Last Time Out
Hammered by an innings and 15 runs inside four days, the West Indies had no answer to big centuries from Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in conditions the trio knew all too well last year.
The tourists lacked a genuine second spinner, while Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha expectedly led the charge after seamer Umesh Yadav orchestrated the initial damage. Other than centurion Darren Bravo, the visiting XI's lack of intent against spin was obvious - and for it they slumped to series defeat.
Happy Hunting Ground
Laxman and Dravid's retirements have rocketed Sachin Tendulkar to the fore of Eden Gardens' run-scoring ranks. He has welcomed 781 in 18 innings, at an average of 48.81 - some six runs less than his career aggregate.
Next in line is Virender Sehwag, with 442 runs in eight knocks at 55.25 a pop - and then you will find Mahendra Singh Dhoni's somewhat bloated average of 181.50, facilitated by a big century against the Windies and an unbeaten ton against the Proteas.
India will be hard pressed not to give Harbhajan Singh his 100th Test cap come Wednesday, given his impressive record at this venue. 46 wickets in seven matches at 21.76 is unrivalled.
England's current crop have never played a Test in Kolkata, though Kevin Pietersen and Steven Finn will draw inspiration from their respective half-ton and four-for in a one-off T20I here last year.
"Cricket should be played on pitches of true pace and true bounce. Games should be decided by the quality of the player, not the pitch. It should be the way they bowl that matters. It is not about the pitch. This pitch was used for the Ranji Trophy game against Gujarat. They were 18 for 5 in their second innings but they fought back and the match was drawn. Swann and Panesar will enjoy this pitch. They bowl line and length. The pitch will have good pace and bounce." - head groundsman Probir Mukherjee.
"The wicket looks good. I don't think there will be much help for the spinners initially. The fast bowlers get a bit of swing at this time of year, both at start of play and then close to stumps. So, I think the role of fast bowlers will be very crucial in this game. When you come to India you want to play on turning tracks, irrespective of the result. If you come to India, why do you want to play on wickets that are flat for the first three or four days? I feel the challenge is to play on tracks that turn, and assist the spinners. The crucial thing is that a cricketer who has played five or six years can say 'I went to the sub-continent and the wickets were turning and bouncing and I scored runs or I failed'. We should still stick to turning tracks because that's what our strength is. That's what home advantage means." - India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"Our spinners took 19 wickets in the last match, so rightly there is that talk about spin. But fast bowlers have a role to play in the sub-continent. We have seen world-class pace bowlers come here and perform, they do take wickets and they find ways of taking wickets. I feel that fast bowlers are underrated in these conditions." - England seamer Steven Finn.
Sunny, humid, temperatures in excess of 33 degrees Celsius, no rain predicted, very little wind. Would you expect anything less from the sub-continent?
India's tactic of using a worn pitch in Mumbai backfired entirely, with Panesar and Swann upstaging Ashwin and Ojha by a long shot in a 10-wicket win for England.
Another used deck will host the third match, too, one that was deployed as recently as 20 November. That first-class fixture ended in a draw, in which only 25 wickets fell across four days, and footmarks form the bowlers' run-ups remain visible.
Mukherjee, relatively free of the BCCI's interference and Dhoni's ongoing call for rank turners, has insisted his pitch will reward good cricket rather than afford the spinners too much assistance.
England's Eden Gardens record is reasonably modest - they last played here in 1993, and last won here in 1977. Their other eight Tests at the venue have brought five draws and three defeats. Colin Cowdrey, in 1964, and Tony Greig, 13 years later, are England's only Kolkata centurions - and no fast bowler has taken a five-for here in more than 12 years.
The toss will, again, will offer a definitive advantage - 37 matches have seen only five teams opt to field first. No captain has done so in the last dozen Tests.