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England vs. India, 2nd Test Preview: India Aims For Better Batting Performance, Series Lead at Lord's

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Thursday, 12th August 2021

When India meets England in the second Test at Lord's on Thursday, captain Virat Kohli may have to seriously consider playing his best spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, while expecting a far better performance from the seasoned batting line-up. While India was in a better position to win the first Test before the heavens opened up on the final day, the first innings score of 278 was still below par, with none of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujari, or Ajinkya Rahane scoring runs. Not to mention that all three haven't scored much in the last two years, and with the exception of Rahane, who scored a century in Melbourne, the other two batting mainstays haven't been able to convert many of their half-centuries into three figures.

In terms of team composition, Shardul Thakur's hamstring injury has shifted the lower-order batting balance once more, despite the fact that the Mumbai seamer did not trouble the scorers in the only innings he played.

Ashwin, who was dropped from the playing XI in Nottingham due to Ravindra Jadeja's superior skills with the willow, is back in the mix after Thakur appeared to injure his hamstring during the Lord's training session on Monday.

It's unclear whether he sustained the injury during the first Test or not. With Thakur all but ruled out of the upcoming match, Kohli may have to reconsider his 4-1 bowling combination, which isn't set in stone given his team's shaky lower-order batting.


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Maximum temperatures in London have reached 24 degrees, with average temperatures hovering around 14 degrees. It will be interesting to see if England keep their green top, as they did in 2018, when the Indian batting collapsed twice in two days and all-rounder Chris Woakes walked away with the win.

If the pitch is dry, there is no harm in playing both Ashwin and Jadeja, who can trouble England's brittle batting line-up with their different variations.

England's batting line-up was once again exposed, as skipper Joe Root came to his team's rescue for the umpteenth time, with a fifty in the first innings and possibly a match-saving 21st Test century in the second.

Rory Burns could be replaced by Haseeb Hameed, who scored a century opening the innings for the Combined Counties against the Indians in the tour game last month.

If four pacers are non-negotiable for Kohli, then one of Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav will replace Thakur immediately, but the decision may be difficult.

"Most likely, it will be a template going forward [4-1 combination], but we've always been adaptable to the conditions and pace of the wicket," Kohli said following the first Test.

However, adaptability was the rider that the Indian captain used during the post-match conference, and thus Ashwin, who is on the verge of surpassing Harbhajan Singh's (417 wickets) tally, enters the picture.

If the skipper believes that his batting needs to be strengthened, Ashwin is the right choice if something is available on the fourth or fifth day, weather permitting.

England are likely to be without their senior pacer Stuart Broad, who injured his right calf muscle during a training session and may be ruled out of the game.


England has added Lancashire seam bowler Saqib Mahmood as cover, with the ECB announcing that spinner Dom Bess will leave the squad and return to Yorkshire.

If the pitch helps, Moeen Ali, who has been inducted, may want to torment the Indians again, as he did in the 2014 and 2018 series, or there is the world's fastest bowler Mark Wood, whose average speed is 90 clicks per hour.

KL Rahul would like to consolidate his position at the top of the order for India, even though Mayank Agarwal's return to the nets is a positive sign.

While the batting order may not be changed, Agarwal's fitness may make Rahul an option in the middle order, where he prefers to bat.

While Pujara and Rahane have not been in the best of form recently, they will only be replaced if a last-minute injury occurs.



India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Md. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav.


England: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Mark Wood, Saqib Mahmood.


The News Talkie Bureau




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