After an exciting four days of action in the first Test at Nottingham, the action now moves to the home of cricket as both India and England look to take an early lead in the five-Test series.
India were on top of the game at the end of day four in the first Test, but rain played spoilsport once again to completely washout day five and end the match in a draw. There are plenty of questions to be answered by both sides though as neither team put on a comprehensive display at Trent Bridge.
As both teams head to the Mecca of Cricket, here’s our preview of the second Test of the Pataudi Trophy between India and England.
ENGLAND’S RED-BALL WOES
From winning the World Cup in 2019 to being the top-ranked T20 side in the world, England have transformed their white-ball side into one of the most dominant teams in the history of the sport. But that emphasis on limited-overs cricket seems to have cost them their traditional dominance of the longest format of the game, where they have fallen behind in recent years.
Remove Joe Root and James Anderson who are two of the most experienced players in the team, and the rest do not even stand a chance against the current Indian side.
At the heart of the problem lies the English batting order – which has been wobbly for a while now. Both the openers and the no.3 spot remain weak points, with Zak Crawley’s lack of progress in the role being a particularly sore point for England.
While Joe Root more or less takes care of the middle-order, neither Jonny Bairstow nor Jos Buttler have shown the consistency to be reliable partners. Ben Stokes has been the best all-rounder England have had for a while but he is out due to injuries and Sam Curran has bridged the gap just a little.
The return of Moeen Ali could fix some of England’s problems – providing them with a spin option while also contributing some runs down the order. Ollie Pope could be a potential replacement for Zak Crawley at the no.3 spot, while Haseeb Hameed’s recent performances make him a first-choice opener in place of Dominic Sibley.
The trio of Anderson, Broad, and Ollie Robinson has been phenomenal in the first innings and they can be expected to continue their form at Lord’s.
INDIA’S TEMPLATE PROBLEMS
Few teams have the burden of having too many good players to choose from as India does and it is no wonder that team selection ahead of the fixture draws a lot of eyeballs.
With doubts arising over Cheteshwar Pujara’s role in the team and his style of play, along with Ajinkya Rahane’s recent lack of form, doubts have been raised over a once stable batting order. India’s bowling unit has matured in overseas conditions, but the lack of a speed-bowling all-rounder still continues to hurt the team.
Virat Kohli’s decision to field four pacers and a spinner might have been considered normal by the pundits given the English conditions, but the choice of putting Ravindra Jadeja over Ravichandran Ashwin has generated a lot of controversies.
The decision might have been taken because of Jadeja’s extraordinary batting abilities and India would have preferred a spinner who can bat over one who can take wickets, but Ashwin’s form on English soil has been simply superb since he was the star for India in the Test Championship Final in Southampton and has taken a six-wicket haul for Surrey before the start of the series.
The dilemma in choosing between two great players is a tough one and is bound to receive criticism either way.
Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur have both performed well in the first Test and are expected to retain their spots.
One good news to India has been the performance of KL Rahul in the first Test. His 84 in the first innings is the team’s highest individual score and he is expected to once again start as the opener.
India have won just two Tests at Lord’s since they began playing Test cricket and Virat Kohli will be keen to add a win at the home of cricket to his achievements. With no rain expected, we can look forward to five days of action-packed Test cricket.
India were the dominant team in the first Test, but devoid of a result, both teams will enter the fixture on equal footing. England are by no means a weak team and familiar home conditions give them an unquestionable boost in mindset.
Virat Kohli’s men look in prime form. And with no substantial weaknesses in their lineup, India are the favourites to win the Test and lead the series 1-0.
Pitch Report: Lord’s has always boasted of a lush-green pitch that favours seamers. Recent reports indicate that there is a decent bit of grass on the pitch, but it can be trimmed on time for the fixture to create more batting-friendly conditions.
India Predicted XI: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami
England Predicted XI: Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (C), Jos Buttler (WK), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Ollie Robinson, Sam Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
When: August 12-16 , 2021 (Thursday to Monday) 3:30 PM IST
Where: Lord’s Cricket Ground, London
Where to Watch: All matches of the series will be telecast live on Sony Six and SonyLiv.
VISIT OUR BLOG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT CRICKET NEWS STORIES & FEATURES