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

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The captains: Virat Kohli and Joe Root

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.


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.



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.


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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