India vs England - First Test Preview: Visitors facing ultimate trial of spin against number one test team

India vs England - First Test Preview: Visitors facing ultimate trial of spin against number one test team

After failing to win the series in Bangladesh, Cook leads his side in India looking to get off to a good start.

Brandon Sayer

On Wednesday morning, Aaistair Cook leads his England side in the first of a very intriguing five-match test series against India in Rajkot, where it will test how good they really are in foreign conditions.

Rajkot is making a test venue debut for this match so therefore it will be interesting to see how it holds up after five days, though it is expected to assist spin and reverse swing during the match.

Visitors face ultimate trial of spin

It will be the ultimate test for England as they come up against the best spin bowler in the world Ravichandran Ashwin, who will be confident after seeing how England played spin against Bangladesh recently.

England only managed to draw 1-1 in their recent two-match series with the tigers after failing to play spin very well at all and know they must improve or face a huge defeat against the world number one team.

India recently became the number one team once again after demolishing New Zealand 3-0 in their home conditions which just shows the task that is facing the tourists.

Overall the hosts since the start of last season have looked near invincible at home and they will be confident of getting off to a good start this time around.

Visitors looking to make it three in a row against the hosts

England will take faith from the fact that the last time they toured India in the winter of 2012, they won the series 2-1 after their batsmen played spin very well indeed.

Before that also England defeated India at home 4-0, so the hosts will be out for revenge to stop England from making it three straight series wins in a row.

Key players 

Virat Kohli: Kohli leads his team into the series in great form after scoring a double hundred recently against West Indies. The charismatic batsmen will be the key for the team in the middle order as everyone around the world knows the skills that he has in all formats of the game. 

Joe Root: Root didn't have the best of series in Bangladesh but remains a key player at number three for England. He will be so important for the team as he is one of the few players who have played in Indian conditions before.

Team news

The hosts have injuries to three key batsmen so Gautam Gambhir is likely to keep his place at the top of the order after impressing against New Zealand in the last series. Rohit Sharma is out injured so his place will either be taken by Karun Nair or Hardik Pandya depending on the pitch.

The bowling attack of the hosts though is likely to be the same than recent tests with them playing two spinners and two quicks with Ishant Sharma likely to play instead of Umesh Yadav.

On the other hand, Cook confirmed that 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed will make his test debut replacing Gary Ballance and will open the batting with Cook. Ben Duckett, therefore, will move down the order to bat at number four.

It means that Jos Buttler will once again not get a chance after everyone else in the team has played some part in either of the two series. Stuart Broad will also play and will receive his 100th cap which is an impressive achievement to get.

Predicted line-ups

India: Gambhir, Vijay, Pujara, Kohli (capt), Rahane, Nair, Ashwin, Saha (wk), Jadeja, Shami, Ishant Sharma.

England: Cook (capt), Haseeb Hameed, Root, Duckett, Moeen Ali, Stokes, Bairstow (wk), Woakes, Rashid, Broad, Batty.