Chittagong:Dense fog and dew has delayed the start of the first Test between sans-Dhoni India and Bangladesh in Chittagong. Harbhajan Singh has been ruled out due to a stiff neck. MS Dhoni is also sitting out due to a back strain.
India are playing three pacers and a spinner, Amit Mishra.
Aware that the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings can change hands after every series, top ranked India would settle for nothing less than a victory when they take on lowly Bangladesh in the first of the two-match Test series starting here on Sunday.
With India playing not many Tests this year and other teams - including South Africa, Australia and England - closely behind them, they will have to get maximum result from the Bangladesh series.
India is expected to maintain their world number one status if they win the series against Bangladesh 2-0 as South Africa, engaged in a Test series against England at home, is left with no chance of toppling them.
Even though some of the Indian players, who were part of the just concluded tri-series squad, would be a bit low in morale after losing the final to Sri Lanka, they will have to get over the disappointment and concentrate at the job at hand.
Notwithstanding the unimpressive start in 50-over format, the Indians would be aiming to begin with a bang in Test cricket.
The complexion of the team has also changed after six players, including stalwarts Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, joining the touring squad.
A full strength India are the overwhelming favourites over Bangladesh who are ranked ninth in the world.
History also favour India as Bangladesh had never won a Test against their western neighbours out of the five they have played between themselves, the last one at the same venue being a drawn affair with rain severely affecting the game.
The Indians have won by an innings in three matches while the fourth one was won by nine wickets.
For some big names in Indian cricket, it would be a perfect platform to get into the Test mode ahead of the big Test series against South Africa at home next month.
For dashing Virender Sehwag, who has scored just 23 runs in the two innings against Bangladesh, it is a great opportunity to come up with a big knock and continue his good form after his 293 against Sri Lanka last month.
Sehwag can easily demoralise the inexperience Bangladesh bowlers with his early assault but he will have to play cautiously in the first hour if India bats first as there will be some moisture at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Cricket Stadium here.
Sehwag's opening partner Gautam Gambhir would want to begin the year in Test cricket with a good performance after a phenomenal 2009 while Tendulkar, who scored a century in the drawn match at this venue in May 2007, is just 30 runs away from achieveing another milestone of 13,000 runs.
Laxman is another batsman who has a poor record against Bangladesh having scored just 41 runs in two innings in his first tour in 2007.
But the stylish right-hander would be eyeing to become only the fifth Indian Test cricketer to complete 7000 runs as he is just 83 runs short of that mark.
Zaheer Khan, who is the third player along with Tendulkar and Dravid to have played all the five Tests against Bangladesh, would also want to make amends for his poor record against the home team having taken just 10 wickets against them.
While the top six batsman of the formidable batting line-up - Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman - and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik automatically select themselves in the playing XI, the bowling department will be spearheaded by Zaheer and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
The toss up for the second spinner's position would be between Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha, while S Sreesanth is likely to partner Zaheer in the new ball department as he enjoys an edge over Ishant Sharma and Sudeep Tyagi.
The Kerala pacer had done comparatively well in the Test series against Sri Lanka last month although he bled runs in the just-concluded tri-series.
But it is India's bowling department which could be a matter of concern, especially after their inconsistent showing in the tri-series and Zaheer and Co. will definitely be eager for an improved performance in the Test series.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are a confident lot after their Test series victory over the West Indies last July though it was a depleted Caribbean side which they beat.
Their captain Shakib Al Hasan has already said that a drawn series would make his side proud considering the prowess of Indian batting line up.
Bangladesh, however, would be much weaker in the bowling department with the unavailability of Mashrafe Mortaza due to injury though batsman Mohammad Mahmadullah said the home side still have a good attack at its disposal.
"Had Mortaza been available our bowling would have been strengthened but we still have a good bowling attack which we hope would do well against India," he said.
The home team will also hope that key batsman Mohammad Ashraful regain his touch after a poor 2009 and indifferent form in the just concluded tri-series.
India: Virender Sehwag (Captain), Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, S Sreesanth, Sudeep Tyagi, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Ishant Sharma.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Zunaed Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Roqibul Hassan,Mahmud Ullah, Shahriar Nafees, Shahadat Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Enamul Haque (Jr.), Mahbubul Alam, Shafiul Islam.
(With PTI inputs)