London: India would expect their floundering batsmen to take more responsibility in pursuit of a series-levelling victory in the second Test against England, starting at the epic Lord’s ground here, Thursday.
If captain Virat Kohli had got support from his batting colleagues in Birmingham, the scenario would have been completely different. The World No.1 Test side came close to taking the lead but fell short by 31 runs.
The mood in the Indian dressing room, though, is quite upbeat. Two days before the game, there was healthy amount of grass on the Lord’s pitch. It is expected that the groundsmen will shave a few bits off before the first ball. But even if they don’t, the general expectation is that the pitch would turn out to be quite dry. This has also prompted a rethink in the Indian camp as to what bowling strategy they would want to go in with.
Despite India’s overall failed batting effort at Edgbaston, bowling coach Bharat Arun ruled out playing an extra batsman here. He also mentioned that the second spinner could come into contention.
In that scenario, Umesh Yadav can expect to be left out with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya handling the pace duties.
Toss-up for the second spinner’s slot is an interesting one. The last time Ravindra Jadeja played here (in 2014), he took 3-99 in two innings but scored 68 in the second innings that underlined his value with the bat.
It isn’t easy to overlook Kuldeep Yadav either. He also bowled to skipper Virat Kohli Tuesday, beating him with drift and turn on more than a couple of occasions. In dry English conditions, wrist spin is a premium weapon, particularly against a line-up that hasn’t faced Kuldeep much (barring Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler).
Away from bowling attack permutations, Kohli will face a tougher dilemma regarding the batting line-up. The skipper played Shikhar Dhawan ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara at Edgbaston, fitting-in KL Rahul in the eleven appropriately. According to the Indian camp, Edgbaston was a difficult pitch to bat on and this experiment could yet continue.
In comparison, England’s permutations are far simpler. Dawid Malan is dropped and Ben Stokes is unavailable due to his on-going court case for affray. So Joe Root only has to decide if he wants two spinners or not.
Moeen Ali will walk into the side and take up one of those vacant spots. It will also mean a Lord’s debut for 20-year-old Oliver Pope, as three pacers – James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Sam Curran – should be enough on a dry, spin-friendly wicket.
India had tasted victory in their last outing at the Lord’s in 2014
England have only won three out of their last nine Tests at the Lord’s
James Anderson is the leading wicket taker at the ground with 94 wickets in 22 Tests