India have been a terrific Test side in recently, defeating teams home and away. Virat Kohli has been brilliant with his leadership skills, which will once again be tested in the upcoming Test series against England, which starts at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Wednesday.
Five Test matches shall be played in the series, and by the look of things, India will start as huge favourites, especially the way Englishmen suffered in the drawn Test series against Bangladesh last month. Hence, England, who did not play a single practice match, understands the importance of starting the series on a bright note against the formidable home team.
Both teams have a good squad, with some incredible players. Here is a look at the key clashes in the first Test, which could turn the tide in favour of their respective team.
Murali Vijay vs Stuart Broad
Murali Vijay was not seen in the best of form for India in the New Zealand series, but India will depend on the right-hander to see off the new ball, which is one of the primary objectives for any opener. But with Stuart Broad being dangerous with the new ball, the contest between the two should be a treat in the longer format of the game. With Vijay having a sound technique, and all the shots in the book as well, Broad cannot afford to give him any freebies to get his eye in. The bowler has to be spot on and make the batsmen play at the new ball.
Virat Kohli vs Adil Rashid
The India captain, irrespective of the bowlers he has faced or the playing surface, has scored runs with ease, and cricket fans will expect the story to continue against England as well. If the openers see off the new ball, Kohli, who bats at number four, will play the spinners, including Adil Rashid, who has it in him to trouble Kohli with his rich trajectory. Rashid is expected to get help from the pitch, and he will have to use that to his advantage against Kohli.
Mohammed Shami vs Alastair Cook
Shami vs Cook. This contest could play an important role in how England fare in the Test series as well. Cook was not at his impressive best against Bangladesh, and there is no either way about it for the skipper, who has to score runs at the top of the order for England. Shami, on the other hand, will try to bowl an immaculate line and length to dismiss the left-hander early, else Cook has that ability to convert starts into big scores, which can trouble India.
R Ashwin vs Joe Root
Ashwin has been India's best bowler for the last couple of years, and in India, he is simply outstanding when the pitches offer something for the spinners, mostly. Though he might be a brilliant bowler, make no mistake that Root is one of the best batsmen in world cricket. England, to a large extent, will look for his services to score runs against the spinners. He is the best English player when it comes to handling spin, but the batsman is also aware that he is up against the class of Ashwin, which makes up for an entertaining head-to-head contest.
Ravindra Jadeja vs Ben Stokes
Besides Ashwin, Jadeja has played the supporting role brilliantly, picking up wickets at regular intervals. The same will be expected in the first Test, but there are some aggressive batsmen like Stokes who are capable to tear apart Jadeja's spin. The left-hander can play shots all around the park, and in the middle order, he can change the game in a matter of overs. Jadeja has to dismiss the batsman as early as possible.