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India vs England First Test Preview: Confident visitors look to continue their strong Asian form

03 Feb 2021
Sridhar Bhamidi 03 Feb 2021
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  • India host England in Chennai for the first Test starting on 5th February
  • This Test will mark the return of international cricket in India post COVID-19
  • England have won their last 5 Tests in Asia, albeit all against Sri Lanka
  • India have won 9 of their last 10 home Tests with 7 coming via an innings margin
  • Ravichandran Ashwin has taken at least 5-wickets in 6 of his last 10 innings at home 
India v England
India will look to avenge the series loss to England in 2018 (Getty Images)

With an eye on a place in the ICC World Test Championship final, India and England start their four-Test series with the first one in Chennai. Starting from Friday November 5, this match will represent the return of cricket to India after the COVID-19 pandemic. While bio-secure bubbles remain the norm, both sides will be keen for a positive start in their quest for the Anthony de Mello Trophy.

India Form

India are coming off a thrilling 2-1 series win down under, where they recovered from a 36 all out in Adelaide. Wins in Melbourne and Adelaide underlined a remarkable turnaround, especially since India missed almost an entire first-team squad due to injuries.

Rishabh Pant (274 runs, Avg. 68.50) has been India’s best batsman from that series. It remains to be seen if India go with Pant as a pure batsman or choose him as a ‘keeper over Wriddhiman Saha. Ravi Ashwin (12) was brilliant with his tactical bowling and will relish a return to familiar conditions.

India News

The hosts could go with three spinners with a toss-up between Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, and Axar Patel for two spots. Despite his heroics in Australia, Mohammed Siraj may miss out to the experienced Ishant Sharma in the final XI.

England Form

England are coming off a 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka dominating the Islanders in all departments. Captain Joe Root (426 runs, 2x100) was massive for England, while Jos Buttler (131 runs) showed good patience.

The spin duo of Dom Bess (12) and Jack Leach (10) were amongst the wickets, but it is the return of Jimmy Anderson (six) in the final Test that was the best news for England.

England News

The return of Rory Burns should see him slot at the top replacing Zak Crawley, who could be playing at number three following Jonny Bairstow’s absence. Ben Stokes’ return should give England enough depth.

India vs England Head-to-Head

England have a massive 47-26 win-loss lead in 122 Tests against India with the remaining 49 drawn. England also have a 4-1 record in their last five matches. However, India have the upper hand in home Tests with a 19-13 record in 60 home Tests with 28 ending as draws. Furthermore, India have won their last four home Tests against England with their last home loss against England coming in December 2012 in Kolkata during the famous 2-1 series win for England.

In Chennai, the teams have met nine times with India holding a 5-3 edge including winning three in a row.

India vs England Match Up

Both teams are coming off massive wins, but surprisingly it is England who can boast of familiarity to conditions. Their series win in Sri Lanka showed a change in attitude to adapt to the spinning conditions of the Indian sub-continent. It would be interesting to see how quickly India can make the change from the bouncy pitches of Australia to the dust bowl of Chennai.

India vs England Stats

  • Virat Kohli has scored at least one 100 in six of his last ten home Tests.
  • Ravichandran Ashwin has taken at least five wickets in six of his last ten home Test innings.
  • India have won nine of their last ten home Tests with seven wins coming via an innings margin.
  • England have won their last five Tests in Asia, albeit all against Sri Lanka.
  • England have lost their last four away Tests in India, the last two via an innings margin.
  • The last nine Tests between India and England have seen a winner with India winning five and England four.


With not much practice ahead of the series, both teams will rely on experience to guide them through this first Test. Root and Kohli loom as the key players for their respective teams. England would fancy their chances after a successful Lanka tour, but don’t discount India yet. Ashwin could be the key to India’s chances, but Ravindra Jadeja’s absence will be a big plus for the visitors.