2ND TEST, PREVIEW: Is India ready enough to make comeback on a rank-turner?
India are currently in a similar situation as they were in Australia two months ago. With a massive loss in the first Test, India, back then, turned the tides under Ajinkya Rahane's leadership after Virat Kohli had left on paternity leave. The question is, can they repeat a similar feat this time at home?
England took a 1-0 lead in the 4-match series in Chennai on Feb 9 with a comprehensive 227-run win. The 2nd Test will be played at the same ground but the turf certainty looked friendlier for spinners this time. In the last match, the spinners could extract some help off the pitch only the 3rd day onwards but vice captain Ajinkya Rahane felt that this time the pitch would offer assistance to the spinners from the very beginning.
"It (the pitch) looks completely different. I am sure it will turn from Day 1 but, again, as I have said before the first Test, you have to wait and see how it plays in the first session and take it from there on," was Rahane's take on the turf.
Now, given this scenario, India would have a lot to ponder over the spin lineup for this Test. In the first Test, Shahbaz Nadeem or Washington Sundar didn't look to be quite an effective pair to assist Ravichandran Ashwin from the other end. So, it will be interesting to see, if the Team management gives the experienced Kuldeep Yadav a chance or if it chooses to hand a debut match to Axar Patel, who recovered from an injury that had kept him out of reckoning in the first Test.
It doesn't look like there will be any changes as such to the batting line-up. With Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara showing signs of good form, the only concern remains on the consistency issues over Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. The whole country will certainly be waiting to see these two classy players making their mark again, provided they get another chance.
England, meanwhile, will incorporate four changes to their winning team. Following a strict rotation policy to keep their players injury-free, they have decided to rest James Anderson. We have to see if Chris Woakes' experience gets an upper hand as a replacement or whether the team management chooses Olly Stone for his pace. Among the other three changes, Ben Foakes is going to come in place of Jos Buttler, while Stuart Broad will replace the injured Jofra Archer and Dom Bess will make way for Moeen Ali.
This is for the first time since the pandemic that India will have an international match played at home in the presence of a crowd. Chepauk will see 50% of its capacity being packed with the enthusiastic cricket fans from all across the country. Are you excited yet?