Tale of two tails and other areas where Lord's Test will be won or lost for England and India

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England have quality in their tail in the form of Sam Curran.

After a momentous battle at Edgbaston, England and India are ready to lock horns once again in what promises to be another enthralling tussle at Lord’s.

The hosts have their noses in front in the five-match series after their 31-run win at Birmingham and the stakes will be as high as they can be when the action turns to the ‘home of cricket’.

There was little to separate the two sides in the first Test and the margins at Lord’s will be fine once again. Here, we look at the key areas where the Lord’s Test could be won or lost.

UP THE ANTE WITH MORE SPIN

Both teams went in with a lone spinner in the first Test. While England used Adil Rashid more as a relief option as they banked on their strengths in the pace department, India used Ravichandran Ashwin as an attacking option from the get-go.

Ashwin’s excellent showing in both innings will tempt the Indian team management to go with an extra spinner. The unprecedented heatwave continues to rage on in the UK and with the possibility of the pitch being drier than usual, a two-man spin attack seems almost a no-brainer for the visitors.

They have the tried and tested option of Ravindra Jadeja to fall upon along with Kuldeep Yadav who still retains a hint of mystery. England’s familiar failings against spin were visible against Ashwin’s artistry at Edgbaston and should Virat Kohli choose to double down on spinners, India could have a massive edge over the hosts.

Kuldeep Yadav could give India the edge in the spin department.

Kuldeep Yadav could give India the edge in the spin department.

DIFFERENCE IN THE TAILS

The outcome of the first Test could have been much different had Sam Curran not made a blinder of a knock for England in the second innings. England’s mantra in the Test arena has been to ‘bat deep’ since Trevor Bayliss took charge and they will have this going in their favour when the two teams arrive at Lord’s.

Rashid, Curran and Chris Woakes are all handy with the bat and will ensure that England  have quality batsmen until as low as the number nine spot. India, on the other hand, do not have that luxury. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury has been a big loss in this regard with India’s tail starting from number eight. That might change should Kohli include Jadeja as the second spinner on Thursday but should Kuldeep play, the tail will remain a long one.

With batsmen from both sides struggling against the moving ball so far, runs from the two respective tails could be game-changing once again and it is England who have the advantage here.

England have more batting quality in their tail.

England have more batting quality in their tail.

DEPENDABLE BATSMEN

Batsmen from both teams failed to cover themselves in glory at Edgbaston and they will be under the spotlight in London. For India, it was a one-man show from skipper Kohli who accounted for 200 of his side’s 414 runs in total. For England, it was Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow who shone before Curran’s heroics in the second innings.

While Kohli looks poised for a monster series and Root remains as dependable as ever despite his conversion woes, the onus is on rest of the batsmen from both sides to step up. India will be hoping that senior batsmen like Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane can give them that lift. The hosts, meanwhile, will want Alastair Cook and Jos Buttler to come to the party given that 20-year-old Ollie Pope will be playing in his first Test.

There is not much to choose between the batting departments of both sides at the moment and this battle will be decided by who turns up on the day.

Rahane and Vijay will be key for India in the batting department.

Rahane and Vijay will be key for India in the batting department.

PACE

England’s pacers clearly outshone India at Edgbaston despite Ishant Sharma’s superb spell in the second innings. The hosts’ trio of  Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes had India’s batsmen under the pump throughout the Test with no breathing room being afforded to the visitors.

In contrast, India’s pacers were guilty of spraying the ball around too often and in turn, wasting the excellent conditions on offer. When they did get it right, like Ishant in the second innings, they had the English batsmen hopping and jumping. However, it was little compared to what England’s pacers showed.

With Jasprit Bumrah ruled out of the second Test too, India will probably field Ishant and Mohammed Shami as their designated pacers with Hardik Pandya continuing as the seaming all-rounder.

For England, Stokes’s absence due to his trial is a bitter blow and a fit-again Woakes has quite the responsibility on his shoulders to ensure the side do not miss the star’s services with the ball.

Still, Anderson and Broad seems a more formidable pairing than Ishant and Shami at the moment and it’s the hosts who will have the slight advantage in this department.

Anderson and Broad give England the edge in the pace department.

Anderson and Broad give England the edge in the pace department.

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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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