India v England 1st Test

Image courtesy of skysports.com
Kevin Pietersen is set to return to the England team. Image courtesy of skysports.com
Kevin Pietersen  will officially return to international cricket when he lines up for England  in the 1st Test against India  starting on Thursday. The 88-Test veteran has not played an international match since being controversially dumped following the ‘texting incident’ during the series against South Africa in early August, but will play a key role as senior batsman in the subcontinent following the retirement of former skipper Andrew Strauss.

Nick Compton  is likely to partner new captain Alistair Cook  at the top of the order after scoring 74 and 79 in his side's final practice match, while Samit Patel’s could replace Jonny Bairstow at number six given he provides an extra slow bowling option. The tourists will be hoping that paceman Steven Finn will be available for selection after suffering a thigh strain in England’s opening tour match, while Stuart Broad is also short of match practice having had his preparations restricted by a bruised heel.

India has some selection issues of its own, with the opening partnership  of Virender Sehwag  and Gautam Gambhir  misfiring. Both players are averaging less than 30 in 2012 but are likely to retain their spots, with Yuvraj Singh  in the box seat to mark his incredible recovery from cancer by replacing the out-of-favour Suresh Raina in the middle order. Having collected 23 wickets in just four Test matches this year, Ravi Ashwin is likely to hold the key for the hosts with the ball.

England recorded a 4-0 series clean sweep in the previous Test series between these nations, although Andy Flower’s side was at home. The last time the tourists won a series in India was in 1996. Five of the past seven Test matches at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad have ended in a draw .

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