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Other SportsIndia v England, first Test: preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and...

India v England, first Test: preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

The State of Play

England have performed well under the leadership of coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, not losing a series since taking over in the summer of 2022.

India away is another matter, though. No side has won there since England themselves in 2012 and it still presents arguably the toughest challenge in Test cricket.

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The tourists have already said they will stick to their attacking approach so expect their batters to take on the hugely skilled India spinners. That could either prove inspired or sheer folly; England’s approach forever teeters on the fine line between bravery and stupidity.

India earned an encouraging 1-1 draw in South Africa over Christmas and the new year and they will, as always in home conditions, go in to the contest in positive mood.

Team News

Both teams are missing a key batter with England’s Harry Brook and India superstar Virat Kohli missing for personal reasons. Kohli will sit out the first two Test matches with England hoping Brook will return at some point on the tour.

India have yet to name a replacement in the middle order for Kohli and they may instead move the likes of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul one place up the order. Rahul won’t have the added responsibility of donning the wicketkeeper’s gloves in this series.

The hosts are also without paceman Mohammed Shami due to an ankle injury.

England sprung a surprise with their selection, naming just one seamer and three recognised spinners in their attack.

Lancashire’s Tom Hartley was the eye-catching inclusion, edging out his more experienced county team-mate Jimmy Anderson.

Brook’s absence means a reshuffle with Ben Foakes coming back into the side as wicketkeeper with Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow keeping his place as a batter.

Captain Stokes is fit after knee surgery but will not bowl. Uncapped Shoaib Bashir misses out due to complications surrounding his visa.

Expected line-ups

India: Jaiswal, Sharma (c), Gill, Iyer, Rahul, Bharat (wk), Jadeja, Patel, Bumrah, Ashwin, Siraj

England (confirmed): Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Bairstow, Stokes (c), Foakes (wk), Ahmed, Hartley, Wood, Leach

What they said

India coach Rahul Dravid on the absence of Kohli

“Any team would the miss the quality of a player like Virat. He’s a phenomenal player and his record speaks for itself. On the field, his presence is a huge boost to the side. Having said that, it presents another opportunity for somebody else to step up.”

England coach Brendon McCullum on the make up of the tourists’ XI

“What balance we go for in terms of the side we’ll work out in the coming days, but the thing we need to be is really brave with whatever we decide. India is the land of opportunity and that’s what sits in front of us now, we’ll take the positive option. Other teams might be better, but we want to be the bravest. We’ve got to do that and that’s got to be factored into selection, too.”

When and how to watch

The first Test takes place in Hyderabad, starting at 4am. You can watch it in the UK on TNT Sports or Discovery+ with the programme starting at 3.45am.

Prediction

England’s batting line-up just doesn’t look strong enough to cope with the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, and that’s before you even take into account the pace options of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

India’s strength lies in their attack – particularly with Kohli absent – so it could be a low-scoring Test but one India should win to take an early lead in the five-match series.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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