India vs England, Trent Bridge Test preview: Cornered India battle for survival
India arrived in England with high hopes the world No 1 team will embark on a new era, and dominate major rivals in their den. After losing the second Test at Lord’s by an innings and 159 runs, the visitors are demoralised and must first put up a fight.cricket Updated: Aug 18, 2018 12:58 IST
India go into the third Test against England at Trent Bridge starting on Saturday with odds stacked against them. To what extent, can be gauged from a simple statistic.
Only one team in Test history has come back from losing the first two Tests to win a five-match series -- Don Bradman’s 1936-37 Ashes side, though it was playing at home. India’s best effort away from home till date has been rallying after losing the first Test to win the next two, in the 2015 series in Sri Lanka.
However, the Indian camp will be thinking more of survival. India arrived in England with high hopes the world No 1 team will embark on a new era, and dominate major rivals in their den. After losing the second Test at Lord’s by an innings and 159 runs, the visitors are demoralised and must first put up a fight.
Their worries are on three fronts -- skipper Virat Kohli fully recovers from back trouble suffered at Lord’s, good weather (forecast is for rain on Sunday and Wednesday, the last day), and batsmen show spine against the relentless swing bowling of James Anderson and Co.
India’s batsmen in the top five slots barring Kohli – Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane – have not scored a fifty across four innings each in this series. Shikhar Dhawan failed in the first Test and was dropped.
If India’s last South Africa series in January is added, the poor run of India’s specialist batsmen, other than Kohli, away from home is glaring. They had one 50 (Pujara at Wanderers) to show for 20 completed innings in that 1-2 series loss.
Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have urged batsmen to show clarity and belief, but batsmen seem to be suffering from a huge loss of confidence. A defeat here will make it three-in-a-row in England for India, having lost in 2011 and 2014. Losing tamely will undermine Kohli’s leadership despite a great run with the bat.
SWING AND SEAM
Indian batsmen, already under siege, won’t be cheered by a pitch with a tinge of grass and Trent Bridge’s history of helping seam bowlers. England spearhead James Anderson, who has 60 wickets at an average of 18.95 at the venue, was thoroughly preparing for the battle on Thursday afternoon.
The master of swing was bowling on a pitch at the edge of the square with all-rounder Ben Stokes. He first got the ball to move away from one end and then switched to the pavilion end, bowling in-coming deliveries, all precise as ever.
The record of making changes under Kohli’s captaincy is set to continue. Rishabh Pant, the 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman is almost certain to make his Test debut, replacing Dinesh Karthik. Shikhar Dhawan had a long batting stint on Thursday and it remains to be seen whether the opener, dropped at Lord’s, is recalled and whether India play six batsmen.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav is likely to sit out, after Kohli and Shastri admitted bungling selection at Lord’s. Umesh Yadav can be recalled or Jasprit Bumrah, fit after suffering a left thumb fracture, will be picked to play in only his fourth Test.
England have a pleasant headache. All-rounder Ben Stokes is back after being a not guilty verdict over affray charges at a Bristol crown court on Tuesday. Debate rages whether he should be welcomed back without any punishment for his behaviour outside a Bristol bar in September. However, Joe Root is unlikely to miss the opportunity of snuffing an India rally and add to his rival skipper’s gloom.
First Published: Aug 17, 2018 15:04 IST