The stage is all set for the 2nd test to start at Chennai from 13th February . England lead the series 1-0. It’s a must win game for India to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the finals of the World test Championships . A loss here means , India will be left only to draw the series which will help Australia to reach the WTC finals or provide and outside chance to England .
As for India’s possible XI , they are almost certain to include Axar Patel for not too impressive Shahbaz Nadeem . It remains to be seen whether Kuldeep is played as the 3rd spinner or the thinktank stays on with Sundar , who has been a revelation more with the bat rather than ball. The main challenge for Indian spinners will be to restrict the England batters from getting runs through sweep shot of which in form Joe Root is likely to pose the biggest threat .
As for the fast bowling choices, Bumrah and Ishant are likely to continue unless any of them needs rest as per the team management in which case Mohammed Siraj , who did so well in Australia may get his chance.
Battingwise , no changes are envisaged but the thinktank will definitely like to see more output from both the seniors Rohit Sharma and vice captain Ajinkya Rahane.
India also need to be more consistent in their catching and should control the number of no balls from spinners.
Another big advantage for India in this test will be the return of spectators on the ground . Unlike in 1st test this can act as the big factor in getting the players motivated . The volume of sound from the stands when an Indian bowler is bowling can unnerve even the best of overseas batters. Definitely the home side will have a distinct edge due to this factor.
Possible Indian XI :
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill , Pujara , Virat Kohli, A Rahane , Rishabh Pant , W Sundar/ Kuldeep , Axar Patel , R Ashwin , Ishant / Siraj , Bumrah.
England has already announced their 12 for the 2nd test. Resting all speculations they have rested James Anderson as per original plans as they want him to be fit for the pink ball test which could be his forte with the movement he may generate with the pink ball. The other bowling stalwart Stuart Broad with 517 test wickets will replace Anderson .
As was already reported earlier Jofra Archer with an arm injury is a significant casualty for the 2nd test . It remains to be seen whether England replace him with Olly Stone , who can generate pace or Chris Woakes , a more in the Anderson mould of bowler who can add value with the willow too.
Another big change in the England XII is Moeen Ali for Dom Bess who had been a bit inconsistent in the first test though he got wickets. Moeen can provide more input with the bat and also can bowl good off spin getting more bounce with his height. Moeen has past success against India at home as a bowler.
The batting should remain the same with Zak Crawley still on injured list which means no change in opening combination. Only change in the top six is wicketkeeping spot. With Buttler going back home , Ben Foakes is all set to don the gloves. He is regarded as one of the best keepers in England currently and is extremely handy with the bat averaging 41 in the few tests he has played.
England XII for 2nd test :
Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Ben Foakes (wk), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes
The weather is expected to stay bright and sunny accross all the days of the test .
The pitch has appeared more brown in colour than the 1st test which indicates that it will take spin from the word go. Toss will continue to be a big factor but it is expected that India will come back strong after their 1st test debacle. Will not be too easy though as England are a highly professional side. A gripping contest is on the cards.
** by Amitava Mukherjee