India Nets
India will know the importance of starting the Test series in full flowReuters

The loss of Murali Vijay is a big blow, but India should still have enough firepower to topple Sri Lanka in the first Test match in Galle, starting on Wednesday.

India have not been at their best in the five-day game, largely due to the fact that most of their matches have come outside the sub-continent. As Australia and England showed so clearly in the Ashes, home advantage is vital in modern-day Test cricket, and while this series is another away one for India, it will feel a lot more like home.

The conditions will be similar with the pitches helping the batsmen initially, before taking turn, something India thrive on. Having said that, though, India have not beaten Sri Lanka in a Test series on Lankan soil since 1993, something Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri are trying to change.

An opening Test victory is vital towards clinching the series, especially when it is only three matches, and India will have to be on guard from day one.

Sri Lanka will also be thinking along the same lines, but they will have an extra added incentive of giving their greatest ever batsman a fitting sendoff.

Kumar Sangakkara will retire after the second Test match in Colombo, and knowing the elegant left-hander, he is likely to walk into the sunset with two hundreds in the two Test matches.

To knock Sangakkara down, India will need as many bowlers as possible, and team director Shastri confirmed the five-bowler theory will be in play for the first Test match.

"I certainly believe in giving the team a chance to pick up 20 wickets," Shastri said. "I am a big fan of playing five bowlers in a 6-5 combination. The endeavour is to look to take 20 wickets so you can win matches. You have to think in that fashion.

"Five bowlers is the first option at all times unless you get a track where you know four bowlers are enough. It will be an added responsibility for the batsmen, but it also gives you a chance to stay in the contest if you are bowled out quickly."

India have taken seven bowlers on this tour of Sri Lanka, with R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh looking set to play as the spinners, along with the pacemen Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron. The final bowler is a toss-up between Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

In the nets on Monday, Mishra bowled a fair bit, suggesting India might go in with three spinners. However, Shastri insisted the decision will be made based on the nature of the wicket.

"We haven't decided if we'll go in with a three-spinner combination," Shastri added. "The pitch has been under the covers for a very long time and we don't yet know what kind of grass cover it has."

With rain forecast for all five days of the Test match, there might be more of a case to play an extra fast bowler, as a damp pitch, with overcast conditions could be something that the pacers can exploit more than the spinners.

The batting lineup looks set for India, with Rohit Sharma set to be preferred ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara for the No.3 position, while KL Rahul will take the place of Murali Vijay at the top of the order.

Sri Lanka haven't given a team news and injury update yet, but they are expected to do so a little later today.

Expected lineups: India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav.

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Jehan Mubarak, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhammika Prasad, Tharindu Kaushal, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath.

India vs Sri Lanka 1st Test Match Schedule: 12 August, Wednesday to 16 August, Saturday.

Play timings: First session: 10 am-12 pm local time (10 am-12 pm IST, 5.30-7.30 am BST, 12.30-2.30 am ET).

Second session: 12.40-2.40 pm local time (12.40-2.40 pm IST, 8.10-10.10 am BST, 3.10-5.10 am ET).

Third session: 3-5 pm local time (3-5 pm IST, 10.30 am-12.30 pm BST, 5.30-7.30 am ET).

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