India brace for green top at Lord's

Author : Salman Khan 8 Aug, 2018


Context

India succumbed to a 31-run defeat in the pendulum swinging series opener last week and will ponder over making a few changes in their line-up ahead of the second Test at Lord's in London starting on Thursday (August 9). Ideally, they will look to include an extra batsman given the lacklustre performance of their six frontline batsmen barring Virat Kohli in the first Test. Chesteshwar Pujara might get his chance at the expense of either KL Rahul or Shikhar Dhawan.

England will have to make one forced change as Ben Stokes will be unavailable due to an ongoing court trial in Bristol. Chris Woakes might fill-in for the Durham allrounder while young Ollie Pope is set to make his debut and will bat at No. 4. Both teams might stick to the lone spinner after seeing the amount of grass covering at the Lord's pitch.

Under the spotlight

With the series just one Test old, there are players who have already started facing the heat. Here are two such who would be hoping to get going in the second Test:

Alaistar Cook: The former England captain came into the series after scoring a solid 180 against a visiting India A side. But Cook was dismissed cheaply in both innings in Birmingham. With an average of 18.36 from 11 innings this year, the pressure is palpable on Cook whenever he walks to open the innings for England. If he rediscovers his touch, a typical gritty Cook knock on a green top might well turn out to be the defining innings of this Test match.

Ajinkya Rahane: The Indian vice-captain has been under the pump after a few indifferent performances with the willow. In the last 11 innings, Rahane has mustered only 118 runs. Those are alarming numbers for someone who was hailed as one of India's best Test batsmen by Kohli. His mode of dismissals at Edgbaston reflected the eagerness of Rahane to force his way back into form. India need a big innings from him to tilt the tide towards them at Lord's.

Set-up

Out of the last 10 Tests that India have played in England, Lord's is the only venue where they have won. This is perhaps the only silver lining for the hosts who frittered away too many chances to dominate in the first Test. Despite Japrit Bumrah's unavailability, India have a decent bowling attack which did reasonably well in the first game. The batsmen will have to step up. Likewise, England needs more from their batsmen. Slip catching of both teams will be under focus yet again. England's pace attack was a tad bit superior to their counterparts but the absence of Stokes might just even out the advantage. In other words, expect another humdinger. 

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