It will be two iffy looking left-handers who open the innings for India after KL Rahul was ruled out of the first Test match against Sri Lanka starting in Galle on Wednesday. Rahul's loss means Virat Kohli will be without both his first-choice openers after Murali Vijay was ruled out of the entire series.

That means Shikhar Dhawan, called into the squad as the replacement for Vijay, and Abhinav Mukund will be the ones who take guard for India at the start of their batting innings, and all Kohli can hope is that the two deliver.

Abhinav has flattered to deceive on the international stage and was out for a golden duck in the practice match against the Sri Lanka Board President's XI. The Tamil Nadu left-hander also looked a little out of his depth against Australia.

Dhawan might have the ability to play a match-winning innings, but, unfortunately, he is more likely to give his wicket away than stick around and make a big score. Dhawan lost his place in the Test lineup owing to his inconsistency, but with Rahul and Vijay's injury, he has been handed a glorious opportunity to reclaim his place.

Having done well for India in ODI cricket in the Champions Trophy, the onus is on the left-hander to do the same in whites as well.

The rest of the India playing XI should be a pretty settled unit, with the only question being if Kohli will go for an extra spinner in Kuldeep Yadav.

Kohli likes to play with two pace bowlers, so if that is the case, and with R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja certain to play, it would mean dropping a batsman. India went with Kuldeep for the injured Kohli in the fourth Test against Australia and it worked like a charm, but they might have to consider their options a little more for this match.

Kuldeep Yadav, India, Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Galle
Kuldeep Yadav will hope to be more than just a water carrier for the first Test against Sri LankaJewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

With the opening combination already looking fragile, can India afford to weaken their batting further by picking an extra bowler? That is a difficult question to answer, but Kohli and Ravi Shastri need to weigh the pros and cons and come up with a solution.

So, if Kuldeep plays, Rohit Sharma is the one likely to miss out, unless Kohli was considering giving all-rounder Hardik Pandya a Test debut. India could also ask Cheteshwar Pujara to open, leave Mukund out and give Rohit, Shastri and Kohli's favourite, another chance to show he can contribute at the Test level.

The India skipper also has to choose which of the two pacers to go with. Umesh Yadav looks a certainty, so the remaining place is between Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.

Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka, India, first Test, teams
Sri Lanka captain for the first Test Rangana Herath during a training session, July 24, 2017Ishara S Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

Sri Lanka have already lost their skipper for the first Test, with Dinesh Chandimal coming down with pneumonia, which means Rangana Herath will captain the side in Galle. It will be interesting to see how that pans out after Angelo Mathews stepped down from the role following Sri Lanka's 3-2 ODI series loss to Zimbabwe earlier this month.

Chandimal's place in the team is expected to be taken by Dhananjaya de Silva. Upul Tharanga could also drop down the order, with Danushka Gunathilaka opening the batting with Dimuth Karunaratne.

Confirmed playing XI:

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Abhinav Mukund, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.


Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep.