India vs England: Virat Kohli’s India look to rally, as England’s pace threat looms
After Edgbaston, where England rode on all-rounder Ben Stokes’s fourth-day bowling heroics, India’s focus will be on batsmen, barring Kohli.Updated: Aug 08, 2018 23:42 IST
World No 1 India face crunch time as they face a buoyant England in the second Test starting at Lord’s on Thursday with Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, the most successful bowlers at the iconic venue, looming as big threat.
Be it blinking or counter-punching, India must revisit plans and execute with precision if they are to bounce back and make amends for the 31-run defeat at Edgbaston that has set them back in the five-match series.
On the South Africa tour in January, focus was on whether the team management picked the best batting line-up to counter the Proteas pace threat. By the time they recalled Ajinkya Rahane, the series had been lost, with victory in the final game in Johannesburg proving a mere consolation.
India will thus look to be more proactive as falling 2-0 back will make comeback next to impossible. Rahane hasn’t looked anywhere near his best though, while calls for bringing back No 3 Cheteshwar Pujara have grown after the top-order collapses in the first Test.
India skipper Virat Kohli has acknowledged a five-match series, unlike three Tests in South Africa, allows scope to rally. After Edgbaston, where England rode on all-rounder Ben Stokes’s fourth-day bowling heroics, India’s focus will be on batsmen, barring Kohli.
Both sets of batsmen succumbed against swing and seam — England against spin as well, but the win has given the hosts breathing space, leaving visitors to devise Plan B.
The match has again been billed as Kohli versus Anderson, after their battle set up the Edgbaston classic, where Kohli hit an imperious 149 and 51. Anderson and Broad though head the all-time bowling list for wickets at Lord’s. Anderson, 36, who will play in his 23rd Lord’s Test, is six short of 100 wickets. Broad has 78 scalps from 20 Tests.
However, six of India players in the eleven at Edgbaston played in the 2014 victory after a seven-wicket haul by Ishant Sharma.
Absence of Ben Stokes
England will sorely miss Ben Stokes, who is attending court hearing in Bristol on affray charges. The hosts could be distracted, though coach Trevor Bayliss has urged others to step up.
England are likely to hand uncapped Surrey middle-order batsman Ollie Pope, 20, his debut, in place of axed Dawid Malan. The latter dropped three catches at second slip, two of Kohli, in Edgbaston. On Tuesday, England’s new slip cordon of Alastair Cook, Jos Buttler and Keaton Jennings had a long drill with skipper Joe Root feeding the bowling machine.
Who fills Stokes’s spot is likely to be decided on whether conditions favour spin or pace. It has been dry and hot in London, but there were showers on Tuesday with more forecast for later in the week. The choice will be between pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes, back from injury, and Moeen Ali as the second spinner.
India too will have to decide if they need another spinner with Ravichandran Ashwin, the most successful bowler in Edgbaston with seven scalps, or an extra bastman.
Left-arm orthodox Ravindra Jadeja, also a handy bat, and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav are waiting. And although Hardik Pandya did little in the first Test, India may be reluctant to give up the extra pace bowling option.
First Published: Aug 08, 2018 19:18 IST