Sweet chin music! That is what Indian batsmen over the years had to face whenever they went outside the sub continent, be it England, Australia or New Zealand. But now – thanks to an aggressive spell of fast bowling, or rather short pitched bowling by Ishant Sharma- the tables have turned. England are in total disarray. The green top has backfired at Lords and now the team management has to decide what sort of track they want for the 3rd Test which starts on Sunday at The Rose Bowl, Southampton.
England cannot afford a dry batting track as that will let Indian batsmen to play with ease and post a massive total on the board. Their best bet was indeed the fast bouncy wicket. But now they know once again Sharma and the rest will choose short pitched bowling against their batsmen most of whom are out of form. The way set batsmen like Joe Root and Moeen Ali fell into the trap of Dhoni must be a concern for the English team. The lower middle order has failed to perform again. Ben Stokes might be considered the player whose position is most at risk, after making three consecutive ducks – to go with seven wickets at 33.14 – in two Tests. Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes provide other all-round options in the squad.
Although his bowling average is better than his senior colleagues, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Liam Plunkett, and England have previously indicated that some rotation may be necessary during the series. Anderson is to face a Level 3 disciplinary charge at the conclusion of the third Test, which could see him banned for the final two matches. Jose Buttler has been included in the squad as Matt Prior’s successor after Prior hose to stand down from international cricket and work on returning to fitness after England’s damaging defeat at Lord’s, accepting that he may have played his last Test.
“The result of the second Investec Test at Lord’s was very disappointing,” James Whitaker, the national selector, said. “One or two of our players had encouraging performances, however, it is vital that the squad learns quickly and arrives in Southampton this week refreshed and ready to perform well in what will no doubt be another tough Test match.” “Congratulations to Jos Buttler who comes into the squad following some very exciting limited overs performances for England and a good record with Lancashire this season and fully deserves this opportunity. Matt Prior has contributed a huge amount to the England side over the years and should be proud of his record throughout his 79 Tests. He has decided to take time out of the game to work on his fitness and we will continue to follow his progress over the coming months”, he added.
India should be looking to keep up their brilliant performance of Lords. A win in this match would ensure that they cannot lose the series which will be another feather in Dhoni’s cap. With the performance of lower order batsmen the pressure is not too much on the middle order. Virat Kohli would like to start contributing to the team’s cause. Stuart Binny may be left out if Dhoni goes for Rohit Sharma as per reports from the practice session. Dhawan would also like to score big after his failure to build on the good starts.
There were widespread calls for English skipper, Cook, to be axed as captain and even from the squad. A delay to the announcement had led to speculation about whether Alastair Cook would continue as captain – despite asserting he would not give up the role on Monday – but the ECB release eventually contained no surprises. The third test is definitely be a big test for him and the team.
England squad: Alastair Cook (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Sam Robson, Joe Root,
India’s Squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Murli Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni (c/wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma