England may pick three spinners
Pitch is dry and will turn
Virat Kohli out
India v England
Thursday 25 January, 04.00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
India v England first Test team news
India have been dealt a blow by the loss of Virat Kohli for the first two Tests. He has left the squad for personal reasons. They are yet to name a replacement but it seems likely that KL Rahul plays as a specialist batter.
He could bat at No 4. Or Shreyas Iyer will take the slot. Rohit Sharma and Yas Jaiswal should open.
There is debate over who takes the gloves. Dhruv Jurel would be an exciting choice. Srikar Bharat less so. The final conundrum is whether India pick three spinners or two. We suspect the former with Axar Patel's record against England strong.
Probable XI: Rohit, Jaiswal, Gill, Shreyas, Rahul, Jurel, Jadeja, Axar, Ashwin, Bumrah, Siraj
England have also shuffled their pack, too with Harry Brook having gone home. It means Ben Foakes plays with Jonny Bairstow handing him the gloves.
They are also playing three spinners, although uncapped Shaoib Bashir will not be one of them. He has been denied a visa, ludicrously, because of Pakistani heritage. India's bully boy tactics need to stop. Tom Hartley makes his debut.
Mark Wood will probably be rotated for Gus Atkinson at some stage. Skip Ben Stokes is not fit to bowl.
Probable XI: Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Foakes, Rehan, Hartley, Wood, Leach
India v England first Test pitch report
There have been only two Tests in Hyderabad since 2017. But they may not be much use as a form guide. India's most recent win over West Indies there saw Umesh Yadav win man of the match. We don't expect pace to play a part and both coaches have already said it is dry and will turn.
When England were last in India in 2021, they failed to score more than 205 in seven of their eight innings. Four of them were under 150 and one under 100. The odd one out was 578 in the very first-innings of the tour in Chennai, a Test they won.
We have plans in place for shorting England runs with any sort of partnership, expecting that it may be difficult for players to come in and turn on the Bazball style on these surfaces.
India have lost two of their last 12 at home. One to England in 2021 and one to Australia in March. Otherwise they have steamrollered teams.
At some stage in the five-Test series England are going to suffer. But they are capable of putting the hosts under pressure.
Their aggressive style will work. More often it won't. But it creates variance, or chaos if you will, and that reduces the gap.
So when does it work? For a start they need to bat when the pitch is at its best. Then they have enough spin guile to test India on a wearing fourth-innings surface.
A lack of preparation time may mean we might start the gamble on chaos from the second Test. For now we're hoping for a glimpse and India might be pushed out to even money in-play.
From 1.491/2 that's not a forlorn hope. England are 4.10 and the draw is 11.5021/2. That shortens quickly by the way if India go big in first dig and it can be traded to half that. Add 50% to your original stake on the lay button.
Listen to Cricket... Only Bettor on the 1st Test below!