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India vs England 2nd Test: Virat Kohli’s India seek redemption on rank turner; Axar Patel, Hardik Pandya in fray
- Updated: February 12, 2021
A desperate India have decided to go for the jugular by opting for a spicy turner against a well-prepared England side in the second Test starting Saturday, well aware that it can boomerang and cost them a spot in the World Test Championship final.
The honeymoon of the Australian series is over after a sobering 227 run defeat in the first Test which must have shaken a complacent team out of its stupor ahead of three high stake Test matches.
But it is an 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, something he thrives on, the Indian captain would be eyeing a good slugfest against a very resolute opposition. India need to win two matches and not lose any of the games to make the WTC final.
England will have a new wicketkeeper 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 last match’s first innings top wicket-taker Dom Bess.
Jofra Archer’s elbow injury might make way for bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes, who 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 and the team’s No 1 batsman Joe Root said on the eve of the game.
A look at the newly-laid dark coloured Chepauk track is an indication that unlike the strip used during the first Test, this one will offer turn earlier than expected.
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.
He would fancy his chance for being a better attacking option than Washington Sundar, but on a rank turner where batting becomes important, all-rounder Hardik Pandya can come into the fray.
The 20-year-old Washington might go on to to become a fine all-rounder in the Ravi Shastri mould in the coming years but as of now, he is not good enough to play as a specialist third spinner.
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.