Root and Kohli tactical focus as England and India captains prepare for Lord's showdown

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Getting along well: Joe Root and Virat Kohli after the first Test.

Joe Root and Virat Kohli will be all too aware that the second Test between England and India at Lord’s is crucial.

Having triumphed spectacularly in the Edgbaston thriller, the hosts, despite Ben Stokes’ absence, will be brimming with confidence while the Men in Blue faced a period of soul-searching post-Birmingham.

Kohli’s importance with the bat was underlined to a great extent in the opener and India will need those around him to stand up and be counted for if they are to level the five-match series.

Here, we shine the spotlight on the two captains.

TACTICS

Joe Root

Will we see an ultra attacking captain Root at Lord’s? In theory, a victory for the hosts and 2-0 advantage would almost be series-clinching, given the third match is at Trent Bridge, in which England could enjoy favourable swing and seam and have a strong record. The tendency is also for touring sides to hit a bit of a wall the longer it goes on.

On Thursday, the 27-year-old will take charge of his team for the 17th time in Tests and we are still waiting to find out exactly what kind of captain he is. Things sometimes go for you and then on other occasions plans don’t work out as a skipper, but Root used his bowlers to great affect in the second innings at Edgbaston, bringing on Ben Stokes at first change after James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with the gun all-rounder then serving up Virat Kohli’s dismissal three balls later.

It is no real surprise that Root seems to heed plenty of feedback from Anderson and Broad, given the length of time he has played with them, but the Birmingham victory was a real feather in his cap and has given room for plenty of optimism after a dreadfully poor winter.

There is a lot to weigh up for Root and Kohli.

Virat Kohli

India’s talisman led with aplomb with the bat and silenced his critics who had questioned his ability to perform in English conditions, scoring what was one of his best-ever knocks in the first innings of the opening Test.

However, as captain, Kohli was guilty of letting England get away in the second innings. For a leader who loves to be in control and have the destiny of his side in the palm of his hands, the 29-year-old let things slip.

With England teetering on 87-7 and youngster Sam Curran at the crease alongside Adil Rashid, Kohli decided against giving the ball to Ravi Ashwin and resorted back to seam, seemingly favouring Curran whose explosive 65-ball 63 swung the game in England’s favour.

Ashwin would have been a good bet to come in and do away with the left-hander, given the batsman’s attacking demeanour. In this Test, Kohli will need to find a way to get the best out of Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya.

SELECTION

Root

Ollie Pope will come in for his Test bow on Thursday, batting at No4. It is a bold but intriguing call, showing England’s focus on the future and giving the best of the rest in county cricket a chance. Ultimately, Dawid Malan was on borrowed time given his sluggish form with the bat that actually had an adverse impact on his fielding, too.

The incoming Surrey batter has a decent platform in which to make hay on what is set to be a good batting track at Lord’s and as a right-hander, he crucially breaks up a monopoly of lefties in this side. It is up for debate how well he will fare.

Root was coy in his pre-match press conference over whether Chris Woakes or Moeen Ali would get the nod given Stokes’ absence, but the former will should the call. England can ill afford to go into a Test, where the bowling workload is likely to be high, with just two frontline seamers in Anderson and Broad, and a third in Curran. Woakes brings that added all-round stability as a fourth paceman, plus plenty of experience and the ability to bat lower down the order.

Ollie Pope is in line to make his England Test debut at Lord's.

Ollie Pope will make his England Test debut at Lord’s.

Kohli

The temptation to field another spinner could prove too much for Kohli, who alluded to as much in his own address to the media. Youngster Kuldeep Yadav could enter the fray or the more experienced Ravindra Jadeja. It will be interesting to see whether or not he makes the call but the pitch is set to be flat and turn after a hot UK summer, which in itself is unusual for Lord’s given it is traditionally not a hotbed for spinners.

That could mean all-rounder Hardik Pandya getting the chop, given he was severely underused in a bowling capacity at Edgbaston – bowling just 10 overs in the first innings and none in the second.

Cheteshwar Pujara is another man who might be brought into the fray and replace Shikhar Dhawan, who has looked out of nick and was evenly criticised by legend Sunil Gavaskar for his lackadaisical body language at Edgbaston. Pujara, 30, has spent most of the English summer playing for Yorkshire, and although he started off brightly, has faded a little. Still, he could bring in some fresh impetus to this batting XI.

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot during the first day of the third test match between South Africa and India at Wanderers cricket ground on January 24, 2018 in Johannesburg. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Will he get a game? Cheteshwar Pujara.

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Ollie Pope confirmed to make England debut in Lord's Test against India

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Ollie Pope will bat at No4 on his England debut.

Ollie Pope will make his England debut batting in the number four position for the second Test against India at Lord’s.

The 20-year-old Surrey batsman is a direct replacement for Middlesex left-hander Dawid Malan, dropped from contention after modest returns this summer.

England captain Joe Root said at his pre-match press conference: “Ollie Pope will come in and bat at four.”

Essex seamer Jamie Porter misses out while Root has yet to confirm whether Moeen Ali or Chris Woakes will replace all-rounder Ben Stokes, who misses out as a result of his ongoing court case.

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Clash of openers Alastair Cook and Murali Vijay among the key battles at Lord's

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England and India clash in the second Test of the five-match series at Lord’s on Thursday, with the hosts carrying a 1-0 lead into the contest following the opening thriller at Edgbaston.

Here, we take a look at the key battles that could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the Test at the Home of Cricket.

Get in touch with your thoughts via Twitter and Facebook.

The Openers

Alastair Cook v Murali Vijay

India's Murali Vijay attends a practice session at Lord's Cricket Ground in London on August 7, 2018 ahead of the second Test cricket match between England and India. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

In need of runs: Murali Vijay.

The England opening batsman is getting ready to play in his 26th Lord’s Test and has scored more centuries, four, at the famous old ground then at any other venue during the course of his career. But, after being on the receiving end of two Ravi Ashwin dismissals in the first Test, all eyes will be on the 33-year-old to see if he can get back in the runs after what has been a barren spell – aside from his double ton (on a flat track it has to be said) at Melbourne during the Ashes. Alongside Joe Root, Cook needs to lead from the front and could also do with partner Keaton Jennings scoring big.

His opposite number, Vijay, has crossed fifty just once in his last 10 Tests (105 against Afghanistan in June) and looks to be running on borrowed time. He doesn’t appear horrendously out of nick but the runs aren’t coming. There is no doubt he will be working on his alignment at the crease in the build-up to the second Test. Curran and Stuart Broad trapped him lbw in each innings in the Midlands, suggesting the 34-year-old is too deep in his crease and falling away a bit to the off-side as he tries to reduce his chances of nicking off.

The Jack of All Trades

Sam Curran v Hardik Pandya

Sam Curran is playing an important hand for England with the bat.

Star turn: Sam Curran changed the game in the first Test.

If it wasn’t for the 20-year-old Englishman’s bludgeoning 65-ball 63 in the second innings at Edgbaston, the hosts would have almost certainly been 1-0 down. His 102-minute stay altered the course of the game and gave England more than a fighting chance. India’s chase of 194 was a lot tougher than a target of around 130.

With Ben Stokes absent here and the Lord’s crowd certain to be delighted about the prospect of seeing the all-rounder in action, he has the chance to make the stage his own. Clearly, like his late father Kevin and brother Tom, he is a gutsy cricketer who relishes the big occasion and could prove to be a handful again with his medium pace and off-cutters, prime to upset batsmen’s rhythm on a one-paced Lord’s wicket.

On paper, Curran is a bowler who bats a bit but it is eventually thought his skills with the willow will become his premier trade. Indeed, that is the opinion of his Surrey mentor Alec Stewart.

While Curran had a Test to remember, Pandya had one to forget. The Indian all-rounder failed to take a wicket in the first innings and didn’t bowl in the second, while he got starts (22 and 31) in both of his knocks but showed his vulnerability outside off-stump, being dismissed by Curran and Stokes. In fairness, he occupied the crease well alongside Kohli as India battled to try and win the game on day four, playing two excellent, flowing drives to remind us all of his natural talent.

Fans of the Men in Blue will be craving more of that flair on a consistent basis from the 24-year-old, who has the potential to steal the show if it all comes together.

The pace battery

Stuart Broad v Ishant Sharma

England's Stuart Broad (R) and Moeen Ali attends training session at Lord's Cricket Ground in London on August 7, 2018 ahead of the second Test cricket match between England and India. (Photo by BEN STANSALL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Needs to make a greater impact: Stuart Broad.

In an attack minus the X Factor of Stokes, England will need their second most senior bowler, behind James Anderson, to hit his straps consistently. His double-wicket second innings opening burst, dismissing Indian opening duo Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan at Edgbaston, was the result of on the money line and length bowling.

Aside from that, Broad – who is known for his ability to change the course of a game with a clutch of wickets – appeared to be struggling for rhythm again, especially in the first innings where he failed to claim a wicket and was comfortably out-shone by young Curran and Stokes’ game-changing brilliance. He needs to up the ante.

On the other hand, Ishant has certainly benefited from his county stint with Sussex over the English summer and performed admirably in Birmingham where he blew away England’s powerful middle-order to help set up the game of the batters. That India’s batsmen didn’t finish the job meant his five-for went unrewarded but he seems in a rich vein of form. The 29-year-old will need to extract pace early on at Lord’s before the wicket typically flattens out. By his own admission, he needs to figure out exactly what his role in the bowling attack is. Is he a strike bowler or workhorse?

Ishant had picked up 5-51 in the second innings at Edgbaston.

Ishant had picked up 5-51 in the second innings at Edgbaston.

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