INDIA VS ENGLAND
The pitch for the first Test at Nottingham may have been lifeless, but James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja ensured that the match and the remainder of the series was/will be anything but. The now-infamous spat between Anderson and Jadeja notwithstanding,the 2nd Test at Lord's was already an affair that was keenly awaited. While the duo, their performances and a possible face-off will be the cynosure of all eyes; the interest in the kind of pitch for the match, the spin options the sides go for, and the possibility of taking an all-important lead in the 5-match series makes the game a must-watch affair.
England:There were few positives for England in the first Test, but none more than the way they pushed India on the final day. On a flat deck, England's front line pacers had India scraping at the end of the barrel with some inspired bowling. India, however, stood firm thanks to their stubborn lower-order as the game petered out into a draw.
Joe Root, and surprisingly Anderson, were the only England batsman to have come out of the game happy about their display with the bat. Alastair Cook's performance has attracted much criticism and the England skipper will be desperate to come good soon. Sam Robson and Gary Ballance did well to get to their fifties, but they will want to ensure they carry on to bigger scores when they get a solid start. Ian Bell and Matt Prior have enough experience and skill to put the disappointment of the first Test behind them and get into the groove.
On the bowling front, England's biggest headache will be the lack of a front line spinner. Simon Kerrigan is touted to take up that spot, but going by his performance in his debut Test against Australia, he needs to up his performance by several notches. Anderson, Staurt Broad, Ben Stokes and Liam Plunkett present a dangerous seam attack, one that will hoping for better conditions than the one at Trent Bridge to be able to bowl at full tilt.
India:India threw away the perfect opportunity to come into Lord's with a big win under their belt - A record, last-wicket stand between Anderson and Joe Root seeing England claw their way out and get into a promising position. That and the form of a couple of their batsmen, the visitors should go into the 2nd Test with confidence.
Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara have looked solid for the Indians, but the form of Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan - India's two most flamboyant batsmen - would have them worried. While Dhawan failed to convert his starts into more significant score, Kohli just refused to start at all. The right-hander has been India's go-to batsman in the shorter format, and he will want to ensure that is the case in the longest format as well. MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane's willingness to fight it out, and the lower-order's surprising stomach to stand firm against some fine pace bowling would keep India hopeful about a host of good scores.
Bowling-wise, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma gave the visitors much to cheer about with their hard-working spells. While the unit struggled to complete the task they started well, they will be happy knowing that they had the England top-order in disarray and that a player like James Anderson cannot be relied upon to save them on a regular basis. Mohd Shami was pacy but costly during his display and India will hope he ups his game at Lord's.
Ravindra Jadeja and Stuart Binny's ineffectiveness with the ball will throw the team think-tank into a limbo about the team selection for the next game, and they should look at R Ashiwn as a more attacking option.
Team News: Both teams' only mooted change will be for their spin department. While England are almost certain to bring in Simon Kerrigan, it will be interesting to see if the spinner comes in for a batsman or for one of the four pacers who played at Nottingham.
For India, there have been calls for the inclusion of two spinners, bring in R Ashwin in place of Stuart Binny. But the all-rounder's match-saving fifty in the second innings could throw the team management into confusion. Another move might be to drop Ravindra Jadeja and bring in the Tamil Nadu off-spinner. Shikhar Dhawan's failing form could also prompt MS Dhoni and Co. to think about Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order, but it is likely that Dhawan will get another chance.
It is a tough time when you are not getting runs. But Alastair Cook is a tough player, as he has shown throughout his career. It is a five-match series, and in a five-match series I expect Alastair to come through strongly -- because he is a top-flight player. He has to stay strong: England coach, Peter Moores throws his weight behind Alastair Cook.
England is not known for fast wickets, it's more about swing and overcast conditions, and that's the specialty here. It is more about swing. That's what you want to see: India captain, MS Dhoni is confident of taking up the challenge that typical English conditions present.
India(From): Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni(w/c), Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Pankaj Singh
England(From): Alastair Cook(c), Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Matt Prior(w), Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Liam Plunkett, Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes, Simon Kerrigan
Edited by cute00ish - 16 July 2014 at 9:15pm