KOLKATA: Persistent rain is threatening to hold up the first test on Thursday when India begins its three-match home series against Sri Lanka.
The sides met only recently, when India toured Sri Lanka in July and August and emphatically won 3-0.
Sri Lanka recovered from that poor showing to beat Pakistan 2-0 in a home test series — albeit played in the United Arab Emirates — but India will once again look to stamp its authority on this contest as the world's top-ranked test side.
Neither side could practice properly on Wednesday because of incessant showers. The forecast is not good for Thursday and Friday and the weather is only expected to clear up from Saturday onwards.
It has affected ground staff, too.
The pitch at the Eden Gardens was lush green on Monday, and staff working there only managed to shave off a little.
Given this, India captain Virat Kohli expects a green pitch for the first test.
"It looks like a sporting wicket," he said. "We want to play in different conditions and perform well."
Kohli's side also has one eye on the tour of South Africa, starting in January, and the players will use this series to step up preparations for an enthralling away clash with the world's second-ranked side.
"We want to play every match with the same intensity," Kohli said. "If we had played all our recent games in overseas conditions, we would have played with the same attitude."
Emerging batsman Hardik Pandya, who impressed during the tour of Sri Lanka, has been rested. In his absence, Rohit Sharma could get a chance if India opts for an additional batsman.
Keeping the conditions in mind, however, the hosts could look to field a five-pronged attack including three pacers and two spinners.
Sri Lanka has a hard task ahead but remains cautiously optimistic.
"India played some good cricket in the past two years. They have worked hard in different areas and their number one rank is justified," Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal said. "It will be an uphill task for us. But we have our plans in place and could surprise them."
But the one batsman who impressed during the 3-0 home loss to India —Kusal Mendis — has been dropped after scoring only 48 runs in two tests against Pakistan.