India medium-pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah may be unfit for the first Test but the likes of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav have shown themselves to be capable operators outside of Asia.
“They seem to have got a good variety of bowlers and strength in depth in their pace bowling,” said England opener Alastair Cook.
“In the last ten years I’ve played them, they haven’t had the option of playing five or six different types of seamers,” added Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, whose highest score of 294 was made against India at Edgbaston in 2011.
Meanwhile, India captain Kohli, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, will be desperate to prove he can score runs in England.
He managed just 134 runs in five matches during his maiden Test series in England in 2014, which India lost 3-1 with one draw.
But former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin believes everything is now in place for Kohli to have a successful series.
“I think he will perform wonderfully well,” Azharuddin told AFP.
“He has led India in so many Test matches, so I don’t think he will have any pressure now as far as leadership is concerned.”
England captain Joe Root, who like Kohli is at his best when leading from the front, comes into the series having converted only three out of 23 fifties since his Test-best 254 against Pakistan in 2016 into hundreds — a poor return for a player of his ability.
Batting could hold the key to the series and there are question marks against both top-orders.
England, following a 1-1 drawn series with Pakistan, are sticking with Keaton Jennings in the hope of at last finding a reliable opening partner for Cook, while India’s Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara have both been struggling for runs.
“We are not worried at all, because both are really quality batsmen,” said India’s Ajinkya Rahane of his top-order colleagues.
“It just takes one good innings to get into your rhythm.”
India would appear to have the edge in spin bowling but off-break bowler Ravichandran Ashwin has rarely performed as well outside of Asia as he has in the sub-continent.
Left-armer Ravindra Jadeja is an experienced campaigner while left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav has forced his way in after impressing during the preceding one-day series.
White-ball form also led England to recall Adil Rashid even though the leg-spinner has not been playing red-ball cricket for Yorkshire this season and he could team up with off-spinner Moeen Ali.
“He’s a very good bowler,” said Rahane of Rashid.
“Wrist-spinners, we all know they are wicket-takers — and right now, in England weather-wise, it’s like playing in Mumbai or Chennai.”
India probable playing XI:
Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma.
England probable playing XI:
Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (capt), Dawid Malan, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
(With AFP inputs)