India Vs England 2nd test: 5 Points for Virat and Co to win the Lord's test match
After their loss in the first Test, we analyse and look at how can Virat Kohli and his boys can make a comeback at the Lord's Test match
India’s five-match Test series started on a disappointing note as the England team defeated the men in blue in a close match by 31 runs. The match at the Edgbaston was a topsy-turvy one and will be remembered for chances not taken by India to seal the deal. Indian captain Virat Kohli once again led from the front (149, 51) and showed true character. What is the missing link in this talented Indian team? Let’s analyse and look at how can Virat Kohli and his boys make a comeback at the Mecca of cricket - Lord’s.
India has to sort out its top order mess
In the history of Test cricket, many successful teams over the eras, had strong opening combinations. The likes of Gordon Greenidge-Desmond Haynes, Justin Langer-Matthew Hayden, Graeme Smith-Herschell Gibbs, Alastair Cook-Andrew Strauss, Gautam Gambhir-Virender Sehwag and so on. When your openers have a good start, more than half the job is considered done and a strong foundation is laid. The Indian team in recent past have sort of been playing musical chairs with openers and it has could be a reason for affecting the confidence of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul.
It was the same old story at Edgbaston as after putting on 50 runs in the first innings, both openers were out and in the end that was a big factor. Murali Vijay (20, 6), Shikhar Dhawan (26, 3) and KL Rahul (4, 13) were dismissed playing wrong shots and the pressure eventually on Virat Kohli. Indian team would need a set opening combination and give it a longer rope. All three men in question are supremely talented but a clarity of roles must exist. Opening in Test cricket is a difficult task and the Indian team has to sort out its opening conundrum and stick to a set of openers for the rest of the tour.
Virat Kohli to once again lead from the front
Indian captain Virat Kohli has been going through a purple patch, (we have been saying this for the past 3-4 years) but scored a majestic century (149) in the first innings. When Virat came to the crease, India were in dire straits and he quickly established himself. It sounds surreal but Virat Kohli in his decade-long career has scored 57 international hundreds and if he would have had some support from the other end, India could have clinched the match. Virat Kohli trusted his gut and batted with conviction (since December 2013, Virat Kohli has scored nine hundreds outside Asia).
There were plenty of questions before the start of the series, but after his heroics at Edgbaston, all doubts have been answered. Virat Kohli's batting is on a different level altogether and if India has to go ahead in the series then King Kohli will have to do the bulk of the scoring. The only regret for Indian captain would be that he couldn’t finish the job. (Remember: Adelaide, 2014) and this match (200 runs in total) would go down as one of his finest matches.
Ajinkya Rahane has to show character
Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is really going through a rough patch and after his twin failures at Edgbaston (15, 2), the pressure is mounting on the talented player. This is the same batsman, who scored runs in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England not too long ago. Ajinkya Rahane is masterful stroke player but is down on confidence and form. Ajinkya Rahane will need to go back to basics and play with a clear mind.
Ajinkya Rahane averages 42.17 in Test cricket in 46 matches and India needs its old Rahane back to add solidity to the batting. One thing working in Rahane’s favour is the last time India played at Lord’s, Ajinkya Rahane scored a magnificent century (103).
Should India go with six batsmen plus a keeper?
Hardik Pandya and Murali Vijay
Indian team in recent past has mostly been playing with five specialist bowlers and five batsmen with a wicket-keeper. Team India under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni very often played with four bowlers and it was a success. Consider this: India’s fifth bowler Hardik Pandya bowled only 10 overs in the whole match and didn’t bowl a single over in the second innings and only scored 53 runs across two innings. Hardik Pandya, ondoubtedly, has potential, but his performances have been quite inconsistent.
If India goes in with extra batsman then a spot opens up for Cheteshwar Pujara. In this case, Dinesh Karthik could probably bat at position seven. It’s all good to have an attacking mindset, but India must understand that apart from Virat Kohli, rest of the batsmen are more or less struggling. So by having the cushion of an extra batsman will lend more solidity to the team.
Indian bowlers are bowling well as a unit
In the recent past ever since the tour of South Africa (picked up 60 out of 60 wickets), Indian bowlers are getting the job done and once again did a fantastic job at Edgbaston by bagging all 20 wickets. The bowlers led by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma have bowled beautifully and they bowling unit should look at taking their performance further into the other remaining Tests.
The second Test match between India and England at Lord's will begin on August 9.
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