After seeing rain destroy their chances of a historic win in the series opener, India take on England in the second Test at Lord’s starting Thursday, August 12.
Injuries have hit both India and England. The hosts have concerns in the form of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, who are reportedly struggling with niggles and could miss out on the second Test. Pacer Saqib Mahmood and all-rounder Moeen Ali have joined the squad as cover.
India, meanwhile, will be without Shardul Thakur. Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav, who joined the squad after flying in from Sri Lanka, have not traveled to Lord’s and are not available for selection.
India’s squad for the Test series against England: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav
Here is India’s predicted playing XI for the second Test against England.
Openers: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were two of the biggest reasons why India were able to put themselves in the ascendancy in the first Test. While Rohit played out the new ball by showing great restraint and patience, Rahul displayed great judgment outside off in his first Test since 2019.
Rohit will be upset with the way he has thrown away his starts and will eye a significant score. Rahul, meanwhile, will want to continue in the same vein and nail down the opening slot. Mayank Agarwal, unfortunately for him, should remain on the bench.
Middle Order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk)
India’s middle order, which has four of the best Test batsmen in the world, has been highly disappointing over the last few series. The pressure is firmly on Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.
All three middle-order stalwarts have averaged in the mid-twenties since the start of 2020, and Pujara and Rahane are essentially playing for their places in the side. Kohli, whose rivalry with Anderson might have to wait until the third Test, will look to capitalize on the predicted absence of his nemesis.
Rishabh Pant didn’t fire in the first Test, but his aggressive innings helped India recover from three quick wickets and his keeping was rock-solid. The batsmen above him need to give him the platform to express himself.
All-rounder: Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja was the sole spinner in the Indian side for the first Test, and while he couldn’t make an impact with the ball, he was one of two Indian batsmen to breach the 50-run mark. The left-arm spinner is a value addition like no other.
Shardul Thakur has been ruled out of the second Test with a reported hamstring strain, throwing India’s plans into disarray. As the only fast bowler who is a decent batting option, the 29-year-old is a necessity at No. 8. Without him, India need to decide whether they will stick with their four-pacer strategy or bring in Ravichandran Ashwin.
Virat Kohli has been vocal about his intention to play four pacers, even though the pitch at Lord’s at this time of the year should be a touch drier and slower than usual. India’s bowling attack is admittedly better with Ashwin in it, and the veteran off-spinner will also add depth to the batting.
However, Kohli’s statements were clear and decisive. The performance of India’s tail in the first Test might prompt India to believe in the batting of their bowlers – ironic as it may sound – and play Ishant Sharma, who has a Test fifty to his name, instead of Thakur.
Bowlers: Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
As mentioned earlier, Ishant could play at a ground where he has good memories. Umesh Yadav is another alternative, with the rest of the pacers picking themselves to a certain extent.
If India want to play Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj might have to make way for Ishant, owing to the 32-year-old’s experience and new-ball prowess. But if the Men in Blue play four pacers, Siraj should complement Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, both of whom were among India’s best performers in the series opener.