We're just days away from the start of a much-anticipated test series between two powerhouses of international cricket. We don't know who will be broadcasting, we don't know who will be playing, but we do know it's going to be one superb contest between two teams fighting to compete in the inaugural Test World Championship.
Unfortunately, I don't have an advanced degree in mathematics, so I can't work out all the permutations, however, I have been assured that England do still have a chance to be one of the teams.
The first test is being contested at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, I've seen a few contests there, some which last 3 days and some that go the distance.
Ramesh Kumar, who has been given the job of curating the pitch for the first two tests has revealed that he'll be looking to unveil a pitch that offers the perfect contest between bat and ball, and a pitch capable of going the distance:
Ramesh is confident about what could be in store in the next two weeks. "We are working to get a sporting wicket," he says. "It will be a typical Chepauk pitch with English look. It will work for all three departments. It will be a keen contest between bat and ball. First day, there will be something for the fast bowlers. Second and third days will favour batsmen. Fourth day onwards there will be wear and tear and support the spinners."
This is key for England. There's been a lot of talk around the type of pitch that will be prepared. Some thought that the BCCI would ask for a bunsen burner of a pitch that would play into the strengths of the Indian spin department and work against the modest spin attributes of the English national side. Despite Jack Leach and Dom Bess playing well in spurts against Sri Lanka, I don't think anyone would argue that India win in the spin department 9/10.
England will be more comfortable with a pitch that offers a little green-top for their seamers, but it would be a mistake to discount the Indian pace attack. With the likes of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakar the Indian team possesses an excellent balance to their spin attack of Ashwin and Sundar.
If the pitch is indeed a green-topped English looking wicket, the toss could be more important than ever. If you win the toss do you make the most of the green-top and hand the ball off to the likes of James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad (depending on who plays), knowing that India will get to bowl the 4th inning with the ball almost certain to be turning? Or do you back your seamers to get the most out of the pitch on days 2 and 3 and then give your spinners the helping hand of a 5th-day pitch?
This is going to be an incredibly entertaining test match, the pitch is just another piece in the puzzle.