England vs. India – 2nd Test Preview

It was a damp start to the new World Test Championship cycle as the first England vs. India Test ended in a draw after rain completely washed-out Day 5 with both sides confident of a win.

However, unlike other teams, who after one Test is washed out, would only the have one, maybe two more Tests (if they’re lucky) in a series, these two teams are afforded the luxury of four more Tests to battle it out.

England continue to struggle with their batting, with another monumental collapse in their first innings, rather reminiscent of their famous collapses in the 1990s (if you’re old enough to remember those, that is). Many of their hopes rest on the shoulders of their captain, Joe Root, who once again proved his worth with a majestic century in England’s second innings. Root is England’s leading run-scorer in Tests in 2021, with 1064 runs. England’s next best is Dan Lawrence with just 354. Ben Stokes’ indefinite leave from cricket has left a massive hole in the England team and not one they can fill anytime soon. But this just highlights the reliance on one or two players and when you take one out, you see the real cracks in the team. Much like with South Africa and a certain Quinton de Kock.

The opening partnership remains a concern for England as Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have only put on two fifty-plus opening stands in 2021, meaning they are failing to set a platform for their batting order and therefore putting more pressure on Joe Root to score the majority of the teams’ runs, something he is not unused to.

Zak Crawley is in awful form this year, and is averaging a rather embarrassing 11.14 in Tests in 2021. With Haseeb Hameed in great form in domestic cricket, he is banging down that door to Test selection and really, there is no doubt that he should play in place of Crawley for the second Test.

Moeen Ali, who last played a Test for England back in February of this year against India, and hasn’t played a home Test since the Ashes in 2019 has been recalled to the squad for the second Test, and is likely to get into the playing XI, perhaps in place of Dan Lawrence.

The quick turn-around of Tests in this 5-match series means England need to manage their bowlers, more specifically the veteran pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. England may choose to rest Anderson from the second Test and bring in the extra pace of Mark Wood to trouble the Indian batters, especially with the short ball, which proved to be Rohit Sharma’s undoing in the first Test.

While India held the upper hand throughout much of the first Test, Virat Kohli will hope for a much better personal performance with the bat in the next Test after his golden duck, which I think astonished not just Kohli but the whole of the cricketing world watching. Kohli possesses incredible skill and passion and will be expecting nothing short of a top-class century at Lords later this week.

India’s middle order batting of Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane is their strength, and for them to all fail in the first innings of the first Test was a nightmare for India. All three are vastly experienced, and have faced tough batting conditions in their careers before. This series should be no different for them.

India surprised everyone by including just the solitary spin of Ravindra Jadeja for the opening Test and leaving out the experienced Ravi Ashwin. I personally don’t see any reason why they would change this for the next Test. Jadeja not only provides a world-class spin option, but he also provides depth to the batting, having scored a wonderful and counter-attacking half-century in the opening Test. Jadeja is a world-class all-rounder and can get into the team as either a batter of bowler.

The next Test is at the home of cricket, where touring teams generally do well, and India will be hoping to carry on this tradition. The weather in London, while cloudy, will hopefully stay dry. But overcast conditions in London means the bowlers will be happy and batting will not be easy, but hey, isn’t that why this is called “Test Cricket”?

 


 

Posted in The Popping Crease.