The Hyderabad loss for India against England last week was only the third instance in their 16-series unbeaten streak at home, that they lost the opening match of a series. 2017 vs Australia in Pune and 2021 vs England in Chennai were the other two. Pune was a dust bowl while the Chepauk track disintegrated like no one’s business. On the other hand, the Hyderabad strip was the most balanced pitch we saw in India in recent times, and it was the visitors who came up on top. A far more telling stat though is the fact that India have gone without a win in their last three Test matches in India heading into the Vishakhapatnam Test.
India must be feeling the pressure. Srikar Bharat, who is set to play his maiden home Test, told reporters that India knows how to bounce back and they will do it. How? is the question. India are missing their three key players – Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja and without Jadeja, India need to plug the batter and the bowler and of course a gun fielder in their playing XI.
The talk about the pitch has somewhat been in hushed tones after what happened in Hyderabad. England had shown that their aggressive approach can take the pitch out of the equation, but equally, India seems to be vary of the fact that a raging turner might as well backfire on them with their batters not adept at playing any better than their opposition in such conditions. And more so with an inexperienced batting line-up lacking in confidence. Yet still, the Vizag track as of now looks drier than the Hyderabad track and as the England skipper alluded to in the press conference spin could take over as early as Day 2.
What: India vs England, 2nd Test
When: 2nd February
Where: Dr YS Rajashekhareddy ACA VDCA Cricket Stadium
Team News – India
Problem of plenty for the India team with their team selection and one of Rajat Patidar and Sarfaraz Khan will make their debut. Going by India’s training session it is very tough to assess what India are thinking. Both Patidar and Khan got a similar amount of times in the nets yesterday and today facing a similar set of bowlers. Patidar could get the nod primarily because he was the one picked as a replacement for Virat Kohli and by the hierarchy logic we have often seen from Rahul Dravid and then the stability factor that Patidar brings in. But the larger headache for India is how to fill the Ravindra Jadeja void – Do you try and bring in a bowler and a batter, or just go with one player to replace and keep the two pacers, three spinners’ combinations intact? Patidar is most likely to slot in at No.5 and Kuldeep Yadav is the spin bowling option; that leaves Sundar to give batting depth to India in place of Mohammad Siraj.
India Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Yashaswi Jasiwal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Rajat Patidar, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Srikar Bharat, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah
Team News – England
Jack Leach is yet to recover from his knee injury and in comes the teenage off-spinner Shoaib Bashir. England have also replaced the pace of Mark Wood with the experience of James Anderson. Stokes revealed at the press conference that Anderson will be utilised for longer spells and adds value not just with the new ball but with the ability to reverse the ball as well.
England Playing XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Shoaib Bashir
I think it might be a good wicket for maybe a day or two, but as out here in India and the subcontinent, you tend to know it starts to spin more and more as the test goes deeper and deeper – Ben Stokes
Playing in front of your home crowd is definitely special but emotions aside, I am looking at it as any other Test game that you are playing for your country. There is definitely something for us to look forward and bounce back that as an Indian team we have always done well – KS Bharat