First Test preview: India versus England

Most pundits have approached the Test series between India and England with trepidation, only differing in their predictions about how badly England will lose.

The series kicks off at Rajkot, with the ground making its Test debut, and England have it all to prove after losing their ,most recent Test, against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

The shock defeat has piled all the pressure on Alastair Cook’s men, with India probably the toughest place to tour at the best of times, let along in times of flux.

Cook will be partnered by teen batsman Haseeb Hameed this week, with the Lancashire lad thrown into the deep end to make his debut against the top-ranked Test side.

As a result, Ben Duckett, who debuted in Bangladesh, will drop from opener to number four, pushing struggling batsman Gary Ballance out of the side, probably one Test too late.

Another storyline is the 100th Test appearance of paceman Stuart Broad, who must lead the attack in the absence of James Anderson, who has not recovered in time to play here.

As for India, they are missing three key batsmen to injury. KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan are all injured, putting the onus on Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay to grab this chance.

Ishant Sharma returns to the side, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar is missing as he has not played a first class match since recovering from injury.

India are still pondering who to hand a debut to, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya and Karun Nair battling for the spot. Coach Anil Kumble has delayed the decision to see what the deck looks like before the toss.

It looks grim for England, but they won the series the last time they played here, in 2012, and they have the players to cause what will invariably be an upset.

Key players

For India, they will look to all-rounder Ravi Ashwin for the wickets, and also for valuable runs down the order. The Tigers exposed England’s spin weakness, and Ashwin will be eager to go for the jugular.

England will also look to their star all-rounder in Ben Stokes, who was their best player in Bangladesh. Watch out for tempers flaring between him and the likes of Virat Kohli.

Last five head-to-head results

2014 Fifth Test: England won by an innings and 244 runs at The Oval
2014 Fourth Test: England won by an innings and 54 runs in Manchester
2014 Third Test: England won by 266 runs in Southampton
2014 Second Test: India won by 95 runs at Lord’s
2014 First Test: Match drawn in Nottingham


India: Virat Kohli (capt.), R Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Karun Nair, M Vijay, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Jayant Yadav

England: Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Ben Duckett, Steve Finn, Haseeb Hameed, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes


Dates: 9-13 November

Morning session: 09:30-11:30 (04:00-06:00 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:10-14:10 (06:40-08:40 GMT)
Evening session: 14:30-17:00 (09:00-11:00 GMT)

Umpires: Kumar Dharmasean and Chris Gaffaney
Match referee: Rod Tucker