VENUE: HEADINGLEY, LEEDS
TIME: 11:00 LOCAL TIME (10:00 GMT)
The first test at Lord’s was a perfect instance of the saying which endorses the presence of test cricket. It was a game which provided viewers with stellar displays. The game at Lord’s had everything in it to be called as the perfect game. England fought back when the side had its back to the walls. Alastair Cook made a strong hard hitting statement as he notched up a superb ton in England’s second innings. His return to form will boost England’s chances massively. Cook has often been a one man army for England. His innings at Lord’s reminded fans of his sparkling performances in India in 2012, when Cook single handedly resisted the Indian bowling on rank turners.
But, it was none other than Ben Stokes who hogged the limelight with his complete all round performance. His knock of 94 in the first innings gave England the momentum; while his ton in the second innings pushed New Zealand out of the game. If Ben Stokes comes to the party at Leeds, then the Kiwis better remain circumspect.
For the Kiwis, their old woes seem to have returned. Their batting collapse in the second innings, where they couldn’t negotiate 77 overs is a worrying sign. With Ross Taylor struggling miserably for runs, the other batsmen will have to step up if they are to compete with England. McCullum too, will have to segregate between aggression and over the top aggression.
Against New Zealand: W
Against West Indies: L, W, D
Against India: W
Against England: L
Against Sri Lanka (W, W)
Against Pakistan (W, D)
Other than Root, the England batting lineup has failed to notch up the big scores in recent times. Cook did get a ton in the first test, but that was after a period of poor form. In the Caribbean as well, Cook and Bell got a ton each, but apart from that, there was no support for Root. Root alone has done the bulk of the scoring. The right hander made a fine ton at Lord’s and going into Leeds, a lot is expected from him.
Stokes has been the talk of the town for quite some time. Stokes was lavished with praises and accolades for his outstanding performance at Lord’s. Stokes was so brilliant that the great Geoff Boycott said that Stokes reminded him of Ian Botham. Now when someone compares you to the greatest cricketer the nation has ever produced, it is your responsibility to just prove that person right time and again!
Fluent is the only word to describe this batting sensation. Williamson’s ton at Lord’s was as good as it gets. He was flawless all along and kept the England bowlers at bay. In the second innings, he resisted for quite some time, before his resistance was ended. With the likes of BJ Watling and Corey Anderson likely to miss out, Williamson has a massive responsibility ahead of him.
Boult will simply relish the prospect of bowling at Leeds. He will get a lot of bounce and the ball will swing and seam with ease. Headingley is traditionally known to assist the seam bowlers to a great extent. Negotiating the swing in the first innings of the game is a very difficult thing to do at Leeds. It is an ideal opportunity for Boult to make a mark against England.
PITCH AND CONDITIONS:
The side batting first in Headingley needs to simply battle it out against the chilly climate and the extreme swing available to bowlers. In the first session, the top order batsmen will have to leave a lot of deliveries outside the off stump. Once set, the batsmen will gradually find things easier. The concerning factor is that rain is forecasted for four of the five days and that will surely play on the minds of the players.
They will retain the same XI.
1. A. Lyth 2. A. Cook 3. G. Balance 4. I. Bell 5. J. Root 6. B. Stokes 7. J. Buttler 8. M. Ali 9. M. Wood 10. S. Broad 11. J. Anderson
Corey Anderson and BJ Watling might miss out due to injuries. They are most likely to be replaced by Ronchi and Bracewell.
1. T. Latham 2. M. Guptill 3. K. Williamson 4. R. Taylor 5. B. McCullum 6. L. Ronchi 7. M. Craig 8. T. Southee 9. D. Bracewell 10. T. Boult 11. M. Henry