ENG vs IND, 2nd Test: Ashwin back on radar as India aims for better batting show

India vs England 2nd Test: Ravichandran Ashwin, who was dropped from the playing XI in the drawn opening game, is back in the mix as Shardul Thakur seems to have done his hamstring some damage.

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin of India during a nets session at Lord's on Tuesday in London.   -  Getty Images

Captain Virat Kohli might have to seriously consider playing his best spinner Ravichandran Ashwin while expecting a far better show from the seasoned batting line-up when India meets England in the second Test at the Lord's starting Thursday.

While India was in a better position to win the first Test before the heavens opened up on the final day, the first innings score of 278 was still below par as none among Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scored runs.

Not to forget all three haven't scored heavily in the past two years and save Rahane, who got a hundred in Melbourne, the other two batting mainstays haven't been able to convert a lot of their half-centuries into the three-figure mark.

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As far as team combination is concerned, Shardul Thakur's hamstring injury does again tilt the lower-order batting balance, although the Mumbai seamer didn't trouble the scorers in the only innings he played.

Ashwin, who was dropped from the playing XI in the drawn opening game in Nottingham because of Ravindra Jadeja's superior skills with the willow, is back in the mix as Thakur seems to have done his hamstring some damage during the training session on Monday.

The 4-1 combination

Kohli might have to revisit his 4-1 bowling combination which can't be cast in stone considering the lean nature of his team's lower-order batting.

London has been recording a maximum temperature of 24 degrees with average temperature around 14 degrees. It would be interesting to see if England retains a green top like it did in 2018 when Indian batting collapsed twice in two days and all-rounder Chris Woakes walked away with the honours.

In case the pitch is on the drier side, there could possibly be no harm in playing both Ashwin and Jadeja, who can trouble this brittle England batting line-up with different variations.

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FILE PHOTO: Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja   -  The Hindu

 

For the India skipper, if four pacers are non-negotiable, then one among Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav will be straightaway replacing Thakur but the choice might not be that easy.

"Most likely it will be a template going ahead [4-1 combination], but we've always been adaptable as well, to the conditions and pace of the wicket," Kohli had said after the first Test.

Agarwal back in the nets

Meanwhile, KL Rahul would like to consolidate his position at the top of the order even though Mayank Agarwal being back in the nets is a welcome sign for India.

While batting order might not be tinkered with, but Agarwal's fitness could also make Rahul an option in the middle-order, where he personally prefers batting.

While both Pujara and Rahane are not in the best of form of late, they will only be replaced in the likely event of a last-minute injury.

'New generation' England

The poor quality of the new generation of England Test players was exposed again as skipper Joe Root had to come to his team's rescue for the umpteenth time with a fifty in the first innings and possibly a match-saving 21st Test hundred in the second essay.

There is every possibility that Rory Burns could be replaced by Haseeb Hameed, who scored a hundred opening the innings for the Combined Counties against Indians in the tour game last month.

England is likely to miss its senior pacer Stuart Broad as he had injured his right calf muscle during a training session which possibly rules him out of the game.

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In case the pitch offers some assistance, Moeen Ali might again like to torment the Indians like he did in the 2014 and '18 series or else there is the world's fastest bowler Mark Wood, whose average speed is 90 clicks per hour.

SQUADS

India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Md. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav.

England: Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Moeen Ali, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Mark Wood.

Match starts at 3:30 pm IST.

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