Kolkata: Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, resumed duty on Monday with a pep talk for his boys not to lower their guards against England as both the teams came out of their quarantine after six days. The visitors are expected to hit their strides on Tuesday.
If India are on a high after their surreal 2-1 series win Down Under, England go into the series after acclimatising themselves well in identical conditions with a 2-0 sweep over Sri Lanka. Captain Joe Root, who amassed 400-plus runs from only Tests in Lanka, will be pleased to earn a nomination for the inaugural ICC Player of the Month Awards, and so will be India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant.
Pant played two Tests against Australia where he scored a 97 at Sydney to ensure a draw before an unbeaten 89 at Brisbane that led India to a historic Border-Gavaskar series win.
Root played two Tests against Sri Lanka, where he scored a 228 and 186 and led his team to a 2-0 Test series victory. Paul Stirling of Ireland is the third nominee in men’s category.
It is a great opportunity for all of us to test ourselves against, on paper, the best side in the world. It is my first time in India. This is what the dream is - to come to places like this to bowl spin
The ICC on January 27 had announced the introduction of the ‘ICC Player of the Month’ awards to recognise and celebrate the best performances of both male and female cricketers across all forms of international cricket throughout the year.
The three nominees for each of the categories are shortlisted based on on-field performances and overall achievements during the period of that month (the first to the last day of each calendar month).
Meanwhile, England’s left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who claimed 10 wickets in Lanka, said it would be a “dream” to make his mark on India’s spin-friendly matches in his maiden tour of the South Asian giant.
“It’s just a great opportunity. They are obviously a quality side that has come at the back of a great win in Australia,” the 29-year-old told reporters.
“It is a great opportunity for all of us to test ourselves against, on paper, the best side in the world. It is my first time in India. This is what the dream is - to come to places like this to bowl spin.”
Leach said adaptability would be key, with players getting little time to prepare. “Being able to adapt and go with the flow. Obviously it’s not the ideal prep but it’s been the same for India,” said Leach.
“I have done some reflecting. I have bowled a few in the mirror. Eager to get back tomorrow and some day’s training before the first Test.”
The Somerset spinner has claimed 44 wickets, including two five-wicket hauls in 12 Tests for the national team, since making his debut in New Zealand in 2018.