Sri Lanka's Tour of India
After a hard-fought series win against New Zealand, Team India now host Sri Lanka for a long tour featuring three Tests, three ODIs, and three T20 internationals. The series will be a hard test for the visitors who've had a miserable time recently, especially in limited-overs cricket.
Earlier this year, the Lankans lost all nine matches - three Tests, five ODIs and a T20 international - suffering their most humiliating defeat at home. Even the history books are not in favour of the Lankans who have never won a Test match in India. However, they will need to draw inspiration from their recent test series against Pakistan, if they are to get close to landing their first Test victory on Indian soil.
The visitors have shown good form in the two-day warm-up matches against the Board President's XI in Kolkata. Fifties from Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella gave Sri Lanka the solid start they needed to post a competitive score of 411/9d.
While the match ended in a draw with the Indian Board President's XI finishing at 287/5, the highlight of the match came from former Rajasthan Royals keeper-batsman Sanju Samson. The 23-year-old youngster showed big match temperament as he took on the Sri Lankan Test attack with ease. He anchored the innings with three crucial partnerships that saw him score 128 runs. Samson struck 19 fours and a six in his 143-ball knock.
While the visitors' performance would have given them confidence ahead of the first test, facing the world's top-ranked Test side would be a completely different ball game. The Men in Blue have been in dominant form and will be looking to stretch their lead at the top of the ICC Test rankings. The Indian team has not lost a home series in any format since 2015.
The Virat Kohli-led home team will field more or less the same side which featured in the Sri Lankan tour. The spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin return to the team to take on the Lankans, against whom they shared 30 wickets in the last bilateral series. Only Hardik Pandya will be missing from the squad as he is being rested.
The series will kick off on Thursday as the Men in Blue lock horns with the Lankans in the first Test at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The action then moves to Nagpur for the second Test on 24th November, with the final match starting in Delhi on 2nd December. The two sides will then play three ODIs followed by three T20I matches.
With the iconic Ashes series less than a week away, England have drawn first blood with a 192-run victory in the first warm-up match against Cricket Australia XI. While the victory was largely due to an outstanding bowling effort, the batting remains a major concern for the visitors. The absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, coupled with the inability of the top order to convert their starts into big scores, is a major worry for the visitors.
While the tourists have been on top in the warm-up matches, they need to guard against complacency given that they've been up against sides stacked with youth and inexperience and hence have largely gone unchallenged.
Moreover, injuries to their top pace bowlers have compounded their problems, and the team will have their hands full come the start of the first test.
On the other hand, Australia's selectors are under scrutiny as they make their final squad selection ahead of the first match. Cameron Bancroft has been thrusted in front of the national selectors after scoring a double century for Western Australia in Perth. Bancroft's rich form is contrasted by the struggles of Test opener Matthew Renshaw, who is not in the best of form. In addition, the home team has a number six spot dilemma after all-rounder Mitchell Marsh sustained an injury during the India tour earlier this year. Hilton Cartwright, Jake Lehmann and Glenn Maxwell are all staking their claim for that spot with some outstanding performances recently. In the bowling department, the Aussies have one of the deadliest bowling attacks spearheaded by Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins.
The first Ashes test gets underway at the Gabba on November 23.