India are a dominant Test side as their world number one rankings suggest, and when it comes to playing at home, they are almost unbeatable. India, who thrashed Sri Lanka in the island nation a few months back, will be keen to do the same as they prepare for the three-match Test series, with the first match slated at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
India have picked a strong side for the Test series though Hardik Pandya has been given rest. With the all-rounder not featuring, it will be interesting to see the team combination for the first Test, which starts on Thursday.
With Virat Kohli having played five frontline bowlers, the same may be witnessed. Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin should be their key spinners, meaning Kuldeep Yadav will have to miss out.
In the pacers' department, it could be a tricky affair. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav have been regular Test bowlers, and it could be a toss-up between Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the final bowler's spot. The latter might get the nod as the pitch in Eden Gardens could offer some movement and Bhuvneshwar is the best in the business to take advantage of it.
Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay will be India's opener with the likes of Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to follow in the batting order.
Coming to the Sri Lanka team, who have made quite a few changes for this tour, picking their playing XI is not going to be easy. Skipper Dinesh Chandimal will try and get the best playing XI, which can challenge India. The likes of Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Angelo Mathews will have to shine with the bat.
Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath and Vishwa Fernando are going to be their key bowlers for the first Test.
Irrespective of the players Sri Lanka pick for the Kolkata Test, there is a serious need for the visitors to give it their all against a strong India unit.
The pitch in Eden Gardens could provide assistance to the seamers, who will get some decent carry.
The playing surface with bounce could be encouraging for the pacers. Batsmen will also love the ball with good bounce coming onto the bat.
Spinners could get into action in the fourth and fifth day, making it a complete sporting wicket as the batsmen can play their shots after getting their eye in.
Expected playing XI
India: Virat Kohli (C), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (C ) Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Angelo Mathews, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Vishwa Fernando and Lahiru Gamage.