Returning to the Test mould after a brief limited-overs series against England, India will be aiming to resume their supremacy when they take on Bangladesh in a historic one-off cricket Test at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here from Thursday.
The Test marks Bangladesh’s debut five-day outing on Indian soil since gaining Test status back in 2000.
Despite India playing a vital role in helping the neighbours attain the status, both the countries have engaged in only eight Tests so far — all in Bangladesh — with India winning six encounters.
But the ‘Tigers’, as the No.9-ranked visitors are known, cannot be taken lightly considering the tough fight they gave when India visited them two years ago for a solitary match which ended in a draw.
India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday also cautioned his No.1-ranked team on the eve of the match against any sort of complacency.
“We cannot take any aspect of Bangladesh lightly,” Kohli said in the match-eve press conference here.
“No team is invincible and there is always opportunity for both sides to perform,” were the 28-year-old Kohli’s words of caution for his side.
Going into Thursday’s encounter, it will be a perfect opportunity for India to brush up their skills before taking on the visiting Australians in the four-match Test rubber, later this month.
While Bangladesh will want to put behind horrors of their recent tour to New Zealand and scare India with their rich spin-bowling attack.
The hosts will be keen to continue from where they left in Chennai, producing a scintillating performance against England.
India’s batting department was bolstered with the return of opener Murali Vijay and middle order mainstay Ajinkya Rahane after recovering from their respective injuries.
However, the return of Rahane may hamper the chances for promising Karun Nair, whose undefeated 303 is too big a performance to ignore.
Despite the inclusion of another Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund, India will look to go with the tested duo of Lokesh Rahul and Vijay at the top, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli.
The No.5 spot will be a toss-up between Nair and Rahane, although the latter’s experience may help him getting into the playing XI with wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha at No.6.
Next up will be the all-round duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who were rested for the T20Is against England. With off-spinner and a useful lower order bat Jayant Yadav back in the squad, it looks highly likely that Hardik Pandya will warm the benches.
In the bowling department, India will most likely go with the two pacers-three spinners combination and in such a scenario Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are the likely seam options with veteran Ishant Sharma.
While Ashwin, Jadeja and Yadav are the certainties, left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav may have to wait a bit longer to earn his maiden Test cap.
On the other hand, Bangladesh will be hoping for a much improved show in familiar conditions, specially with the inclusion of wicketkeeper-batsman Liton Das, who barged into the team after a double century in the Bangladesh Cricket League last month.
With opener Imrul Kayes already being ruled out of the Test due to a hamstring injury, Soumya Sarkar will partner the dangerous Tamim Iqbal at the top.
The middle order boasts of the experienced Shakib Al Hasan and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, who have recently been amongst the runs against New Zealand.
Shakib blasted a career-best 217 while Mushfiqur hammered 159 at Wellington to guide Bangladesh post a total in excess of 600 runs in an away Test for the very first time.
In the bowling front, Bangladesh will definitely miss the services of India’s prime tormentor in 2015 — pacer Mustafizur Rahman — who was at his best during his stint with the Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise last year.
All-rounder Shakib, Taijul Islam and Mehedi Hasan Miraz form the Bangladeshi bowling attack, even though there are Shafiul Islam, Subhasis Roy, Taskin Ahmed and Kamrul Islam Rabbi in their fast bowling reserves.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav.
Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (Captain/Wicket-Keeper), Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mehedi Hasan, Mominul Haque, Mosaddek Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shafiul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Subashis Roy, Taijul Islam, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed.