By Rahul Sadhu
With an eye at Lords, which will host the final of the World Test Championship in June, India will take on England in the first of a four-match series at Chennai’s Chepauk on Friday. Both teams will go to battle on the back of away series victories in the longest format of the game. While an injury-hit but feisty India posted a sensational 2-1 win to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Joe Root’s England won 2-0 against Sri Lanka.
Before the action begins, here’s a look at how these two teams have fared in Tests at the Chepauk.
India has enjoyed a fair bit of success at the venue where it achieved its first-ever home victory over England in 1952, by an innings and 8 runs.
Currently, the hosts hold a slight edge over the Three Lions at Chepauk, winning five of the nine Tests played at the venue. England have won three, with one match ending in a draw.
Overall, Team India enjoys a formidable track record at the Chepauk, winning 14 Tests out of a total of 32 hosted by the city. It has only lost six Tests, with 11 ending in draws and one in a thrilling tie.
The hosts have traditionally enjoyed batting on the Chennai strip, with the highest total recorded at the MA Chidambaram stadium being 759/7 (declared) against Alistair Cook’s England in December 2016. England’s highest at this stadium is 652 for 7 (declared) in 1985, while it fell to its lowest of 159 in 1973.
Last time England visited Indian shores in 2016, the hosts, led by Virat Kohli, hammered the Three Lions to register a 4-0 series sweep. China played host to the final Test of the five-match series, which saw India winning by an innings and 75 runs. Karnataka batsman Karun Nair scored a debut triple hundred while KL Rahul stroked his way to 199, in a run-feast. Nair fell out of favour with the national selectors since his heroics at the Chepauk.
Also, on their last visit, it was the Indian spinners who turned it the hosts’ way against the clueless Englishmen, with a combined haul of 68 wickets at an of 30.35. Their English counterparts fell 20 short in the wickets tally.
Spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali is the only one of three slow bowlers in England’s current touring party to have previous experience of playing on Indian pitches. While Ali was a part of the 2016-’17 squad and also turns out for his franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL), off-spinner Dom Bess and slow-let armer Jack Leach have never toured India before.
England have not won at the Chepauk in 30 years. But so hadn’t Australia for 32 years at the Gabba in Brisbane before India, led by stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane , fashioned a win for the ages. Can Root inspire his charges to a similar feat in the first of the two Tests in Chennai? Time will tell.
India wins: 26
England wins: 47
LAST THREE SERIES
2018: England beat India 4-1 in England
2016-17: India beat England 4-0 in India
2014: England beat India 3-1 in England
World ranking: 2
Top-ranked batsman: Virat Kohli (4)
Top-ranked bowler: Ravichandran Ashwin (8)
World ranking: 4
Top-ranked batsman: Joe Root (5)
Top-ranked bowler: Stuart Broad (2)
First Test: Feb. 5-9, Chennai
Second Test: Feb. 13-17, Chennai
Third Test: Feb. 24-28, Ahmedabad
Fourth Test: March 4-8, Ahmedabad ( Indian Express )