2nd Test: India aim to bounce back against England’s ‘Bazball’

NEW DELHI: In the second Test, which starts in Visakhapatnam on Friday, an under-pressured and under-resourced India will have to be creative in order to beat England‘s gutsy group of “Bazballers.”
India are rarely tested at home, but after a shocking defeat in Hyderabad, they have a lot to think about. Moreover, their work has been made more difficult by the absence of injured players Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul.
The formidable hosts were in a similar predicament three years prior after losing the first Test against England in Chennai but winning the series nonetheless.
The Joe Root-led team was a different animal back then, though, and this time around India intends to rally against a team that has revolutionized Test cricket by winning the opening series despite trailing by 190 runs on a turning pitch.
In the first Test, England’s hitters, led by Ollie Pope, surprised Rohit and his team by sweeping and reverse sweeping their way to victory while making the most formidable spin trio in the world appear unimpressive.
India won’t have the luxury of fielding Jadeja in this match; instead, Ashwin, who is four wickets short of reaching the 500-wicket mark in Test cricket, and Axar will have to rearrange their strategies in order to take full advantage of their extremely aggressive opponents, who will undoubtedly use sweeping tactics regardless of the wicket.
“It’s important that we respond and come up with some plans and some strategies and see how we can make him play those shots from probably even more difficult lengths and be even more disciplined and even more meticulous with our execution,” India head coach Rahul Dravid had said after the 28-run defeat last week.
“I thought a little bit of our execution went off. Not by much. Credit to him (Ollie Pope), but we were a little bit off and, hopefully, in the next Test match, if we get our execution right, then I hope he makes a mistake,” he added.
In Jadeja’s absence, Kuldeep Yadav is anticipated to play. It is unclear if India would start with just Jasprit Bumrah as a pacer and another spinner, perhaps off-spinner Washington Sundar.
Sourabh Kumar, an uncapped left-arm spinner, has also been included in the team.
India’s deadly spinners were put to the test against Bazball, but their hitters’ difficulties on turning wickets were also highlighted when left-arm spinner Tom Hartley turned an otherwise unremarkable debut into a game-winning one.
In the second innings, Rohit appeared to be the only reliable batsman. Shubman Gill and the rest of the inexperienced team were prone to playing the turning ball with hard hands.
Gill’s defensive strategy, which led to his dismissal, was a factor in his breakout 2023 in the shorter formats.
There would be a lot of pressure on players like Gill and even Shreyas Iyer to perform well in Vizag, especially with Virat Kohli expected to return in the third Test.
The host team’s hitters need to find a method to match the visitors’ high-risk play even though they are not as experienced playing the sweep as their English counterparts are.
Rahul is probably going to be replaced by Rajat Patidar, who was also in the Hyderabad team.
Sarfaraz Khan, who amassed a ton of runs in domestic cricket, has at last received the approval of the selectors and is eager to play for India.
Before deciding on the starting 11, the management will examine the situation more closely.
In contrast, England may see a chance to seize a 2-0 lead in the five-game series and put a lot of pressure on the Indians.
In the first game, Stokes demonstrated excellent captaincy by backing and using his resources.
The decision to give rookie spinner Hartley an extended stint in the first innings in spite of Yashasvi Jaiswal‘s vicious attack and to take note of Ashwin and Co.’s bowling strategy said a lot about Stokes’ leadership approach. Stokes describes himself as a keen observer of the game.
Due to a knee injury, seasoned left-arm spinner Jack Leach will not be playing, which is another cause for concern for the tourists.
Coach Brendon McCullum‘s intention to field an all-spin attack has also been thrown out by the potential replacement of young off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.
“If the wickets continue to spin as much as what we saw in the first Test as the series goes on, look, we won’t be afraid to play all spinners or a balance of what we’ve got,” head coach Brendon McCullum had told SEN Radio.
The visitors named the veteran James Anderson in their playing XI since his accuracy can bring greater value on a sluggish, low pitch. Pacer Mark Wood had not been able to make an impression in Hyderabad.
There have only been two Test matches played at the ACA-VDCA stadium, and the pitch typically favors the hitters in the opening innings. With an astonishing outcome, England has laid down the gauntlet, and it is unclear what kind of surface India would use in their attempt to regain parity.
Though they might be tempted to take such gamble, an outright turner could backfire on the hosts.
India: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat (WK), Dhruv Jurel (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Avesh Khan, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, Sourabh Kumar
England XI: Ben Stokes (Captain), Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes (wk), Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir, James Anderson
(With PTI inputs)

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