Finally, cricket returns to India as the Board of Control for Cricket in India gave a green signal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It kicks off with an electrifying series between India and England on the 5th of February 2021. Cricket returns to Indian soil after almost a year and the cricket board also plans to allow spectators in the stadium at a comparatively low capacity. Both India and England are playing on the back of phenomenal test series victories as they defeated Australia and Sri Lanka respectively on their home soils. India’s win against Australia is deemed as the more heroic feat as they were not only able to capture fortress Gabba in Brisbane 32 years of it being undefeated but also managed to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the third year in a row. Both teams would have an enormous adrenaline rush to defeat one another as they come head to head in a series comprising 4 tests, 5 T20Is, and 3 ODIs.
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MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
The weather in Chennai is quite comfortable given the wintery conditions in India. The mornings would be predominantly hot due to the tropical conditions with temperatures ranging from 24°C-30°C. High levels of humidity will persist with an expected range of 75%-80%. The winds would be blowing at moderate speeds affecting the direction of deliveries.
The pitch at Chepauk or MA Chidambaram Stadium is always a spinner-friendly pitch. This pitch holds a lot of history as India registered their maiden victory against the same team they play this time, England. Due to the humid conditions, the pitch at times also favours the pacers.
India: Coach- Ravi Shastri. Virat Kohli (C), Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Axar Patel, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur
England: Coach- Chris Silverwood. Joe Root (C), Jos Buttler (wk), Dan Lawrence, Dom Sibley, Rory Joseph Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes, Dominic Bess, Jack Leach, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Stuart Broad
Expected Playing XI:
India: Virat Kohli (C), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Mohammad Siraj, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma
England: Joe Root (C), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Dom Sibley, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach
After the heroics in Australia, India is now considered a gold mine of young players in the world of cricket. They have a huge lineup to choose from and they will come up with the best players to fight the powerful England side.
With most of the senior players back into the squad after injuries, India looks a decently strong side against the likes of the English boys who had dismantled the spirit of Sri Lanka on their soil and recorded a whitewash in the test series.
However, a persistent question that is coming up from the series in Australia is who should be the leader of the Indian pack- Virat Kohli or Ajinkya Rahane. Experts and Ajinkya Rahane himself consider Virat Kohli as the outright skipper of the Indian side and that should be the case too. India would eagerly miss the presence of their veteran all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who is out due to serious injuries in his hand. They have found a somewhat replacement in Washington Sundar who has the potential to be a big star in the near future and Ravindra Jadeja‘s able successor.
Experts point towards a win for India as they play on their home soil with a lot of confidence and dominance. It is very important for India to get their tactics right and start the series on a high note against a dominant team like England and a world-class cricketer like Joe Root.
The permission to fans for attending the games would be a great motivation on the part of the players who would be overly enthusiastic to perform their best in front of them and entertain them to their maximum.