Chennai: A desperate India, down 0-1 in the four-Test series have decided to go for the jugular. The Indian team have opted for a spicy turner against a well-prepared England side in the second Test. The game stars at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here, Saturday. However, the Indian team are well aware that it can boomerang and cost them a spot in the World Test Championship (WTC) final. However, they have no other option.
The honeymoon of the Australian series is over after a sobering 227 run defeat in the first Test. The result must have shaken a complacent team out of their stupor ahead of three high stake Test matches. But it is a perfect stage for India’s mercurial skipper Virat Kohli, who loves to bring his A game to the fore when the chips are down.
With crowd back inside the heated cauldron ready to egg him on, the Indian captain would be eyeing a good slugfest. However, Virat Kohli and his Indian teammates must realise they are up against a resolute opposition. India must to win two matches and not lose any of the games to make the WTC final.
England will have a new wicket-keeper in Ben Foakes and Stuart Broad will replace James Anderson as part of workload management. Also in the mix is Moeen Ali, a known nemesis of India, in place of Dom Bess. Jofra Archer’s elbow injury might make way for bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes. The latter is a handy batsman apart from being a fine pacer in his own right.
“Jofra is a slight setback but hopefully he is fit and ready for the third Test,” skipper Joe Root said on the eve of the game.
A look at the newly-laid dark coloured Chepauk track is an indication of what is to offer. It is unlike the strip used during the first Test; this one will offer turn earlier than expected.
So Ravichandran Ashwin will need a lot of support from the other end in terms of both restrictive and attacking options. A fit-again Axar Patel is the closest to being a like-for-like replacement for an injured Ravindra Jadeja. Patel’s Test debut looks imminent as Ashwin will need someone to hold on at the other end, if the Indian team are to do well.
However, one can’t be so sure about Kuldeep Yadav, who in his short six-Test career, has played some tough games. He would fancy his chance for being a better attacking option than Washington Sundar. However, on a rank turner where batting becomes important, all-rounder Hardik Pandya can come into the fray.
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Kuldeep is an excellent attacking option. But the team management’s continued reluctance to play him is an indication of lack of faith in the Uttar Pradesh wrist spinner’s abilities of late.
Hardik, on the other hand, might just be able to score those quick runs against spinners and bowl 8-10 overs which is the maximum that is required from a fifth bowler on a friendly pitch.
The ball will bounce and turn and the strip will break much earlier but then India have had instances where this kind of track has back-fired.
Rewind to Pune 2017, when Steve Smith punished them on a rank turner on the first day. The home team didn’t have a clue that the ball will turn so much.
The toss will be very crucial and even if it turns square, Kohli will look to bat first. He will expect Rohit Sharma to go beyond the two or three pretty shots that he has been managing so far. He would have to give the team a big hundred which it desperately needs from him.
Kohli gave a master-class on how to play the reverse swing in the first Test but it always takes two to tango.
Whether it’s a Cheteshwar Pujara or an Ajinkya Rahane or a Rishabh Pant, the Indian skipper will need some support to keep his team’s chances alive of booking a flight to London.