India vs England: 5 changes India must make for the Lord’s Test match
After the humdinger at Edgbaston, the Indian cricket team will take on England in the second Test at Lord’s and if anything, Virat Kohli and the management have few chinks to iron out in their own armour.
Yes, England managed to eke out a victory, but India had their own chances yet failed to seize the moment when it mattered most.
A 31-run defeat was perhaps the right reflection and now it is India’s turn to do the running when the action kicks off at Lord’s.
We take a look at five tweaks which the visitors should make if they harbour any ambitions of levelling the series.
Wiping off the tail
For long this has been the biggest impediment for Indian sides. While the bowlers work their magic and prize out the top order, they for some reason struggle to get rid of the lower order.
The scenes were similar at Edgbaston, Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin reduced the hosts to 97 for seven in the second innings, when Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, and Stuart Broad added another 83 runs together to put the eventual target of 194 runs away from the visitors.
The pitch was a spicy one and hence Sam Curran’s partnership with Adil Rashid (48 runs) and then with Stuart Broad (41 runs) not only frustrated the Indians but also put the target away from their grasp.
This is where Virat Kohli, the captain has to get his act straight and think of ways to finish off the tail.
Curbing the flamboyance
Yes, the pitch was tough to bat on, yes the conditions were conducive to seam and swing bowling, but then the Indian top order and middle order played strokes which left a lot to be desired.
Shikhar Dhawan played loose drives outside off in both the innings, KL Rahul went for the expansive cover drive to a pitched up ball in the first innings, Ajinkya Rahane looked clueless and played rather iffy strokes in both the innings and Dinesh Karthik forever looked on thin ice. Barring Virat Kohli, none of the other batsmen did any justice to their talent and perhaps the time is ripe for them to not only dig in but reflect on their techniques.
A little bit of graft and watchfulness, particularly at the top of the order will do them no harm and will also help Kohli walk out when the ball is not entirely new.
Cheteshwar Pujara headache
This is just an extrapolation of the previous point. Amidst breezy strokemakers, Cheteshwar Pujara is the obdurate monk, who seldom leaves his bubble and is almost never coerced out of his bubble. This is what this Indian team requires, a batsman who puts a price on his wicket and wears the opposition down.
However, the Saurashtra-man has not been in the best of forms in the recent past, his record in England is not very promising either, will the selectors take the leap of faith and include him. Also, who makes way for him and how will it impact the balance of the team remains to be seen.
Slip catching woes
Not just the bowlers, but the slip catchers too have to take accountability for not being able to wipe off the tail in the first Test.
Shikhar Dhawan dropped Sam Curran and then Adil Rashid, it proved to be very expensive. Dinesh Karthik was always jittery with the gloves on and even Ajinka Rahane let one pass in the first morning.
The statistics are not entirely flattering, since December 2013, India’s spin cordon has dropped 47 and taken 36 catches off fast bowlers and in conditions which are conducive to seam and swing, there will be plenty of chances which will be offered, will it be gobbled up?
Freebies offered by the faster bowlers
Umesh Yadav got the ball on the first morning, but he sprayed the red nut all over the place. Mohammed Shami is always a nervous starter, he has the tendency to fire deliveries down the leg side at the beginning of his spell. Now, Test cricket is not only about picking up wickets and grafting while batting, it is also about being able to build pressure and particularly when the wicket becomes flat and the conditions favour the batsmen.
The Indian bowling attack should focus more on stringing together maidens, they should strive for more consistency and not always go for the glory deliveries and end up leaking runs.