The first Test is of significance at multiple levels. Not only would it be India’s first under permanent leadership of new skipper Rohit Sharma, it would be the 100th Test of former captain Virat Kohli’s legendary career.
India have never lost a Test match at home to Sri Lanka – a record Sharma would like to and likely extend. Of the 20 Tests played between these two sides in India, the home side has won 11 while the rest of the nine ended in draws.
India have dropped Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha for this series, while Axar Patel, Washington Sundar and KL Rahul are unfit. In their place, Ravindra Jadeja, Saurabh Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav have been brought back.
Sri Lanka have a massive challenge ahead of them, which is to survive against the scary Indian bowling unit. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne is of course the most well equipped to deal with what the Indians hurl at his team.
He will have some help in Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews but the pair are not quite what they used to be in their prime, which means other would need to step up.
The islanders’ fate would of course depend on how they deal with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on a Mohali pitch that reportedly will have a lot of help for spinners.