Amidst a lot of expectations, the India vs England Test series got underway today at the Chepauk Stadium, in Chennai! India, on the back of a historic series victory against Australia in Australia, took on an equally upbeat England who just won 2 hard-fought Tests against Sri Lanka! Both the teams were bolstered by the return of a number of their first-choice players and England's captain and batting talisman Joe Root was turning up for his 100th Test while Jos Buttler was marking his 50th Test! Being played behind closed doors did not dim the sheen on this much-anticipated contest as both India and England are vying for a place against New Zealand in the World Test Championship Finals, to be held in England! In the build-up to this Test, Axar Patel was slated to step in for the injured Ravindra Jadeja, as Ashwin's spin twin but a freak last minute injury lead to local boy Washington Sundar making his home Test debut with Shahbaz Nadeem being selected as the third spin option to support the two pacers - Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, who were both returning from injuries. As slated earlier, Rahane took a back seat and returned to being Vice Captain, upon regular captain Virat Kohli resuming his role, after returning from Paternity Leave!

Unfortunately for Kohli, he lost the home advantage after losing the toss to Root, who immediately decided to bat first and make the best use of a placid looking pitch! Root's decision seemed to be getting vindicated as the openers set up a solid start but the Indian spin wizard Ashwin got Rory Burns to mistime a shot to Pant, who had dropped a chance of the very first ball of the match. Bumrah picked up his first Wicket on home soil almost immediately, trapping Dan Lawrence for a 5-ball duck! Having gotten England to 63/2 and with Root mistiming a couple of balls of Ashwin, India looked to be gaining control and were keeping the scoring in check with Ishant and Bumrah getting some early reverse swing and Ashwin using his guile in flight! Unfortunately for India, all and any advantage was blunted when their main bowlers were taken off and the relatively inexperienced Washington Sundar and Nadeem were brought on. After playing out a very patient first 50 balls, Root began to get into groove.

Root and Dom Sibley played sedately and began building a chanceless partnership. Root began coming into his own and overtook Sibley in scoring, once he started to let the shots flow! The English batsmen did not give India any Wicket in the post-lunch session and grew in confidence in the next session. Root was taking apart even Ashwin and this was where India missed the tight, probing lines of Jadeja. The pitch didn't seem to offer much to the bowlers as even the mild spin that the bowlers managed to extract, was negated by the slow pace. The Indian bowlers and fielders' body language suggested weariness and they seemed to be conserving energy for the second new ball, which is usually due after 80 Overs. Meanwhile, the English batsmen were taking full toll with almost a boundary coming in every over. Root scored a punchy 100 in his milestone 100th Test, making it his third consecutive ton in as many Tests. Sibley also seemed set to get to his own century, before Bumrah pulled out another trick and had him caught LBW, with a low, fast ball, honing into the stumps. Sibley was out for 87, off the 88th over of the innings and the umpires called it stumps. England finished the day on 263/3, making it their day, despite losing a wicket off the last ball. However, India would be looking to make the most of the first session of Day 2, with a relatively new ball and a new batsman at the crease, although England wouldn't be too bothered, as they bat deep and have gotten the services of Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler, yet to come. Stay tuned for updates...