India will have a lot to think about as they look to bounce back in the second Test against England at Lord’s.
While they came within 31 runs of winning the first Test, Virat Kohli and Co will admit they slipped in key areas. Also, if Kohli’s catches had been held in the first innings, the Indians would have lost the Test emphatically.
In hindsight, India made a mistake in fielding just one spinner as Ravi Ashwin picked up seven wickets in the Test and all-rounder Hardik Pandya barely got to bowl even on a spicy pitch.
With the Lord’s ground expected to offer help to the slower bowlers, India are almost certain to go in with two spinners.
But which two spinners? Here we take a look at what spin combinations India can try at Lord’s.
RAVI ASHWIN & KULDEEP YADAV
Advantage: The best attacking option on paper. Off-spinner Ashwin was brilliant in Birmingham, getting the ball to dip and turn as he troubled all England batsmen. His control was excellent and for the first time in his career, he made a sustained impact in a Test outside Asia against a top team. If he gets the attacking support of Kuldeep from the other end, India can squeeze the life out of England’s batsmen once the ball gets old.
Disadvantage: Kuldeep was played out fairly comfortably by the English batsmen in the limited overs series once they decided to. Joe Root looked increasingly comfortable against the left-arm spinner and there is a fear that if batsmen aren’t going after him, Kuldeep might struggle to make things happen.
RAVI ASHWIN & RAVINDRA JADEJA
Advantage: Experience. The veteran spinners have played a major role in taking India to the No1 rankings in Tests. They offer control with the ball and can bowl at one spot throughout the day and if the pitch breaks up, the two can be lethal. Also both offer the possibility of handy lower order runs, which the Indian team is desperate for.
Disadvantage: Too similar. Both are finger spinners and can become predictable, to an extent, if the batsmen get their eye in. Also, India will be wary of fielding two finger spinners outside Asia, no matter how dry the pitch might be.
RAVINDRA JADEJA & KULDEEP YADAV
Advantage: Yes, it’s the most unlikely of combinations, especially after Ashwin picked up seven wickets in Birmingham. But it brings in a unique challenge as both are completely different left-arm spinners. While Jadeja pegs away at one line over after over, Kuldeep can be more adventurous and try to steal a few wickets from the other end.
Disadvantage: Uncertainty. Having two spinners who didn’t play the previous Test will be a huge risk. It’s unlikely to see this combination but if wickets continue to help spinners in the series and Ashwin somehow fails to live up to expectations, it can be looked into.
Speaking at a press-conference on Tuesday, the bowling coach said that the less number of overs Pandya bowls, the better it is for India.
The all-rounder bowled only 10 overs in the first innings at Edgbaston and did not bowl at all in the second innings.
“The less Hardik bowls, it augurs well for the team because it means other (specialist) bowlers have done very well. I am not taking any credit from Hardik. But he did an exceptionally good job for us in South Africa and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t come to the party here,” Arun said.
When asked about the bowling combination plans for Lord’s, Arun stated that playing five bowlers would be the way to go.
“Playing an extra batsman here, I would consider it as a conservative move. I think everything depends on the conditions and they are not going to be as friendly as it was in the first Test, it makes more sense to play five bowlers (here),” he said.
The bowling coach did not choose to reveal whether India would go with an additional spinner at Lord’s after Ravichandran Ashwin’s excellent performance at Edgbaston. India have Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav at their disposal if they choose to go down that route.
“We will take a call tomorrow. We will take a look at the wicket but our bowlers have done extremely well in the last game. So we really need to look at any change in strategy depending on the wicket,” he stated.
“It’s a good choice (to pick between Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja), a tough one too. Depending on the conditions and the team, we’ll take a call on that,” Arun added.
The second Test between the two sides will get underway on Thursday.
Virat Kohli and Co have it all to do to level the five-match series after losing a thriller in Birmingham by 31 runs. But the tourists don’t exactly have an excellent record at the Home of Cricket, having won two of 17 Tests.
Yet, there’s hope for India – and Lord’s is certainly a stage where they’ve flourished before, whether it’s with a white ball or red. So if you’re an India fan, sit back and relive some of the most cherished memories made at the hallowed ground.
1983 – FIRST WORLD CUP TRIUMPH
The fact that India were not even classed as one of the favourites to win the World Cup shows how incredible this feat was, 35 years ago. Underdogs they may have been but their journey was nothing but a fairytale. After advancing through the group stage, the Indians beat hosts England by six wickets in Manchester before making their way down south to the Home of Cricket.
Two-time champions West Indies stood in their way but Kapil Dev and Co had other ideas. Mohinder Amarnath’s 3-12 ultimately was the difference as Dev’s charges claimed their maiden world title in style.
2002 – INDIA WINNING THE NATWEST ODI SERIES
Sourav Ganguly waving his India jersey at the Lord’s balcony will always be an iconic moment for India fans. He had every reason to celebrate considering his team had overhauled the then second-highest ODI total to win the decider against England. Needing 326 to win, India were staring at a defeat when they were at 146-5. But Yuvraj Singh (69) and Mohammad Kaif (87 not out) defied the odds with a 121-run stand to complete a sensational victory.
1986 – FIRST-EVER TEST WIN
India probably got sick and tired of playing at the historic venue every time they visited England given their dismal record. But that all changed more than 30 years ago as Dev’s side became the first Indian team to win a Test at Lord’s. After England scored 294, Dilip Vengsarkar’s unbeaten 126 helped his nation put up a total of 341. Dev and Maninder Singh shared seven wickets each before the Indian batsmen chased down the target with ease.
1982 – DILIP VENGSARKAR’S FIRST IN A RUN OF CENTURIES
Vengsarkar made a habit of scoring centuries at the ground. Three to be precise and what’s more impressive is that they were scored on consecutive occasions. In the 1979 Test he slammed 103, and three years later, he went even better. Unfortunately for him those came in losing causes but it was third time lucky in 1986. His unbeaten 126 was decisive as India secured victory. Altogether, in four Tests, the Mumbai batsman scored 508 runs at an average of 72.57.
2014 – SECOND TEST WIN
A day that Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma will certainly not forget after making an impact with the bat and ball. Rahane’s 103 set the tone before Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s six-for reduced England to 319. India still managed to build a second-innings lead thanks to Murali Vijay’s 95 but Sharma did the damage with the ball – taking 7-74 as India wrapped up a 95-run win and their first Test win at Lord’s in 28 years.