India shall be taking on England in the first of the five match Ind-England Test series at Rajkot from Wednesday.
The Indians would like to settle scores with the Englishmen after they were inflicted a crushing 3-1 defeat by the visitors in the 2014 Test series.
Both the sides had contrasting fortunes heading into the Test series. While India are on a high after handing the Kiwis a series whitewash, the English had a mixed bag after levelling the series with Bangladesh. England was handed an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh in the second Test.
Both the teams are missing out on some of their key players due to injuries and the selectors on either sides have gone ahead with a futuristic direction by handing deserving youngsters Test call-ups.
The Indian batsman would love to play on batting friendly tracks at home with the spinners on either side would like to exploit the turn on the Indian wickets.
Meanwhile the England batting which would be wary of the Indian spin threat. So let us look at how Virat's team stacks up against Cook's men.
India vs England Test Series:
Opening: Both team suffering form opening woes
Both India and England are devoid of a settled opening pair to give their teams the much required stability. The visitors will be heavily dependent on their captain Alastair Cook who has been their mainstay at the top of the order.Cook dosent have dependable partner on the other side as the team has tried out multiple players in the slot before zeroing on upcoming batsman Ben Dunckett.
The Indians are pretty much facing the same music. While Murali Vijay shall once again open the batting, the Indians shall miss the services his seasoned partner Shikhar Dhawan as well as promising youngster KL Rahul who has been nursing an injury.
Meanwhile veteran Gautam Gambhir who showcased a lot of resolve and promise in his comeback at the Eden Gardens Test is likely to open with Murali Vijay.
Middle Order: India middle order more stable and experienced than their English counterparts
India's middle order looks much more organised and experienced than their English counterparts. Led by their prolific skipper Virat Kohli who shall be the lynchpin of the middle order, they also have the likes of Chesteswar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane who have proved their mantle as accomplished batsmen in the longer format.
Ravindra Jadeja who chips in with valuable contributions shall lend depth to the lower middle order.
The English are heavily dependent on the ace batsman Joe Root who has burdened the responsibility of playing the sheet anchor's role to perfection. The team is going through a phase of transition and is on a mission to find someone to lend stability to the middle.
With seasoned campaigner Ian Bell out of the scheme of things and Eoin Morgan considered more suitable for the ODI format, they certainly look vulnerable.
Meanwhile all-rounders Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali are likely to assume more responsibility with the willow and give depth to the English batting.
Wicket-Keeping: Even Stevens
While Indians have had a smooth transition with Saha has taking over as the gloves-man from former Test skipper MS Dhoni. Saha is adept with good skills with the gloves courtesy his razor sharp relexes. England have restored faith in Jos Buttler's ability as a Test wicket-keeper after he proved his credentials as a destructive ODI batsman, flaying attacks all over the world.
Seam Attack: Both sides loaded with potent pace arsenal
Indian seam attack looks well rounded with a lot of variety in their pace attack. While Shami would like to cartwheel a few English stumps with his potent reverse swing, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma would like to hit the deck hard and look for seam movement off the pitch. Meanwhile the selectors have beefed up the pace attack by handing youngster Hardik Pandya his maiden test call.
Pace bowling has always been a traditional strength of the English and they once again boast of a quality pace attack.The attack would be lead by their tall and lanky seamer Stuart Broad in the absence of their pace spearhead James Anderson. Steven Finn has rattled the best of batsman with his sheer pace. The attack is well rounded with Chris Woakes and Jake Ball. Meanwhile the likes of Ben Stokes shall provide depth to their pace attack.
Spin Attack: Indian tweakers hold the edge
India wins hand down in this facet of the game. India has perhaps two of the best spinners in the world in Ravichadran Ashwin and Amit Mishra who have been casting a web around the visiting sides on home conditions.The attack shall also be bolstered by the return of Ravindra Jadeja who has complimented the attack very well.
The English dont have a front-line seamer after their ace off-spinner Graeme Swann bid adieu to international cricket. Moeen Ali has assumed the responsibility of the lead spinner and played his role to perfection. Ali has got a spin twin in Adil Rashid who has come up the Test ranks pretty quickly.
Wisdom has prevailed over the English selectors as they have included veteran spinner Garett Batty to bolster their attack on spin frinedly Indian wickets.
So in a nutshell team, India looks the better side on paper and has a better track record going in the first Test against the visitors.