England face India in the first test of a four-match series starting Thursday, 15 November. The tourists will seek to defy the critics over their ability to play in variable conditions in the sub-continent and claim their first test series win in almost three decades, while India will hope to avenge the 4-0 series hammering they took in the summer of 2011.
India vs England
Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad
Live coverage starts at 2.30 am BST on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD 1. The match will be streamed live on ESPN's official website.
Alastair Cook leads England for the first time as permanent test captain, hoping to reclaim the No.1 spot in the test match rankings, while India will look to improve on a disappointing T20 World Cup campaign and avenge a series whitewash the last time they traveled to English shores.
English will welcome Kevin Pietersen back after he missed the 3rd test against South Africa in August after allegations he exchanged text messages with member of the Proteas dressing room. His reintergration process with the rest of the England team in October proved to be successful and he joins a middle order bereft of form in spinning conditions.
A convincing defeat to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in January and a stuttering display against Sri Lanka two months later worked to continue England wretched form in the sub-continent, conditions which disrupted their failure to defend their T20 World Cup crown earlier this year.
As expected, the newly laid pitch at Ahmedabad is expected to suit the spinners over five days, but with Stuart Broad set to be fit for the first test, England's seamers are likey to pose a threat. Coach Andy Flower will have to decide whether to play part-time spinner Samit Patel or Monty Panesar in support of Graeme Swann.
Nick Compton, who has scored three half-centuries in the warm-up games, will partner Captain Cook at the top of the innings, while Steven Finn could miss out with a thigh problem picked up in the opening tour match. Tim Bresnan, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan are all in contention should the Middlessex strike bowler miss-out.
For India, World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh and spin legend Harbhajan Singh return to the hosts' squad, while Sachin Tendulkar, without a century since Januasry 2011, will be the primary batting threat alongside openers Virendar Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Virat Kohli, who averages 49 in his ten test matches, will keep his place after scoring 103 not out and 51 in India's five wicket victory over New Zealand in their last test outing.
The home side are likely field two spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, although Harbhajan could be drafted in as a third spinner given England's well-publicised problems against the turning ball. If Dhoni starts with three spinners, veteran left-armer Zaheer Khan could be the only fast bowler in the attack.
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