R Ashwin Cheteshwar Pujara Virat Kohli India
India will know the need to play to their optimum levels if they want to beat EnglandIANS

The first of five Test matches – both India and England keen to make the best possible start, set the tone, make a statement and all the rest of the clichés that comes with the opening match of a much-awaited series. Rajkot has thrown the red carpet to the players as they prepare to host their debut Test match, and, hopefully, we are in for a gripping contest.

India come into this series in sparkling form, having vanquished New Zealand 3-0. That series came on the back of wins over the West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka, and while the victories might have come in friendly conditions or against opposition in transition, there is no denying that India are the deserved No.1 ranked Test team in the world at the moment.

Virat Kohli has inspired this team into playing some brilliant all-round cricket, and England will be wary of their opponents.

India have been near-flawless at home in recent times and as good a team as England are – and they are a much better side than their performances against Bangladesh suggests – Kohli's side will be the ones expected to make the running, dictate and dominate.

To do that, however, India will need all their players to contribute. While someone like an R Ashwin or a Kohli will be the undoubted main men with ball and bat, what has made this India team so successful over the past 15 months is the fact that every single player has contributed in some manner to the wins.

That was not the case in 2012 when England pulled off one of their great series victories, so India will be wary of complacency and taking their foot off the pedal. Going at full tilt from ball one will be essential if they are to come out on top in this series.

England might have a lot of new faces in their lineup, but there are a quite a few familiar ones too, some of them who were a part of that success in 2012. Alastair Cook was captain then and remains now and the onus will be on the left-hander to lead from the front with the bat – set that early tone (yes, another cliché) and make sure the India bowlers never feel like they are the ones in control of the proceedings.

India vs England 1st Test schedule

Date: November 9 to November 13.

Time: 9.30am IST (4am GMT, 3pm AEDT, 11pm ET previous day).

Session times (all times local): First session: 9.30am to 11.30am. Lunch: 11.30am to 12.10pm. Second session: 12.10pm to 2.10pm. Tea: 2.10pm to 2.30pm. Third session: 2.30pm to 4.30pm.

Venue: Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot.

TV guide:

India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD1 and Star Sports HD3.

UK: Sky Sports 2.

USA, Canada: Willow TV.

New Zealand: Sky Sport 2.

Australia: Fox Sports 2.

Singapore: Star Cricket.

Middle East: OSN Sports Cricket HD.

Also read