England finds itself in the middle of an extremely rare scenario; it hasn’t played a single warm-up match to acclimatise itself to the Indian conditions prior to the first Test that goes underway on 9th November. However, as baptism by fire goes, they had more than their fair share of it, losing to Bangladesh on a minefield of a track where they couldn’t deal with the spin dished out by a newcomer ably supported by a veteran.
India, on the other hand, are riding high winning massively against New Zealand and they’ve the motivation and the hunger to settle scores having lost their last three Test series against England, one at home (a heart-breaking one) and two away. Ahead of the first Test, plenty of unanswered questions and suspense remain over the composition of both teams. Both teams have potential caps to dish out and both teams have been hampered a little bit by injuries. Here are the top 5 talking points of the first Test.
#1 Will Karun Nair and Hardik Pandya both get debuts?
Gautam Gambhir, thanks to injuries to Shikhar Dhawan as well as KL Rahul is definite to get another game as an opener, probably more than just one. That means India have five batsmen who have booked their place already – Murali Vijay, Gambhir, Chesteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. The big question is will India hand out a Test cap to Karun Nair or Hardik Pandya or both.
Nair is the classical batsman, almost a like-for-like replacement for Rohit Sharma, with lots of runs at the first-class level. He has been forged well under the guidance of Rahul Dravid, even though he didn’t have the best of times playing for India A down under. That shouldn’t take away from the fact that he has been in excellent form this domestic season. Hardik Pandya, in stark contrast, has taken a different route – from IPL to T20 cricket and then to ODIs. He is fast and offers India a two-in-one option, something Indians yearn for – a fast bowling all-rounder.
The first Test might feature both of them, Nair at No.6 and Pandya as one of the two seam-bowlers. However, that seems unlikely. Of the two, Nair has a better chance as India looks to strengthen their batting on a Rajkot track that may not really be conducive to Pandya’s seam bowling.