The past year has largely been a forgettable one for the entire world, but things seem to be looking up with the start of the new year. One of the many things to look forward to in 2021 is the return of international cricket to India. The Indian team will take on England in the first test at Chennai starting Friday, February 5, which will be the first international match played on Indian soil since January 2020. The four-test series will be followed by five T20Is and three ODIs.
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 2, 2021
India are still on a high from their magical series win in Australia, and will be eager to play on home turf again. England, meanwhile, have just registered an emphatic series win in neighbouring Sri Lanka, and will bring that confidence to India. Here are a few talking points ahead of the first test.
The big guns are back
Skipper Virat Kohli missed the last three tests against Australia due to as he was on paternity leave, but is now back at the helm of things. Veteran bowler Ishant Sharma also returns from injury, adding much-needed experience in the pace department after Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav were ruled out. All-rounder Hardik Pandya also finds himself back in the test squad after a long hiatus.
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The spin conundrum
With Ravindra Jadeja missing the series because of injury, the four spinners in India’s squad are Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar and Axar Patel. It’ll be interesting to see whether India choose to play two spinners or three in their XI. Senior pro Ashwin is a certainty in the line-up. Washington Sundar, who impressed with his all-round performance at the Gabba, could slot in at number seven.
A new stadium
The first two tests will be played in Chennai, after which we’ll the teams will head to the brand new Motera stadium in Ahmedabad for the remaining two. The third test will be the first international game at the stadium. The Motera stadium has a capacity of 1.1 lakh spectators, making it the largest cricket stadium in the world.
Superbly equipped ✅
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) January 26, 2021
There will be spectators
There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not spectators would be allowed during the series. It is now understood that while the first test will be played behind closed doors, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has formally given the nod to open doors to the public in the second test. The BCCI will allow 50% of the stadium to be filled. It’s expected that spectators will be permitted at the Motera as well.
Root’s approaching a century
England’s captain Joe Root will become the first player born in the 1990s to play 100 test matches when he steps onto the field on Friday. It is fitting that he will be achieving this feat in India, where he had made his test debut nine years ago. Root has been in red hot form lately, having notched up 426 runs at 106.50 in two tests against Sri Lanka. Can he commemorate his hundredth with a hundred?
Joe Root’s Test match career milestones (all in India!)
Debut: Dec 2012 at Nagpur
50th Test: Nov 2016 at Visakhapatnam
100th Test: Feb 2021 at Chennai+#INDvENG
+ next month
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) January 28, 2021
Indian fans can watch the test series live on the Star Sports network and Disney+ Hotstar. Coverage will be provided in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.