Team India are all set to lock horns with England in the second Test match of the India v England test series at Vizag starting on the 17th of November. With this match, Vizag will make its debut as a Test venue. The first match at Rajkot, another debut venue, ended in a draw, after captain Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja held up the faltering innings to save the team from a defeat.
The Indians had a largely disappointing outing at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium at Rajkot in the first game. While Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay shone with the bat, opener Gautam Gambhir continued his disappointing run against the English side. There were decent contributions from the lower middle order with R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha playing useful knocks. But what would have disappointed the team is the continued trend of middle order collapses and they will surely want to avoid more of that come the second test.
The Indian spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Amit Mishra also had an ordinary match, as they did not cause much trouble to the English batsmen, who just a few weeks ago were at sea against Bangladeshi spinners. The pacers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav did impress, but were let down by some very poor catching which the team would definitely want to rectify.
The English camp will be a happy one, especially after everyone have seemed to written them off from the outset. The Poms ended up with four centurions in the match with Joe Root, all-rounders Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali hitting tons in the first innings and captain Alastair Cook notching up a hundred in the second.
But it was the 19-year old debutant Haseeb Hameed who caught everyone’s eye with his composure and technique and will be hoping to continue in the same vein of form and finally end England’s search for an opening partner for Cook ever since the retirement of Andrew Strauss.
The English batsmen, contrary to early predictions, looked very comfortable against the Indian spinners, as they attacked them and showed positive intent. But it will be to interesting to see how they tackle the spin threat at Vizag where the ball is expected to turn from as early as Day 2.
Their spinners also put on a good show on a decent track at Rajkot, with leg-spinner Adil Rashid impressing the most. And judging by that performance, they will continue to pose plenty of questions for the Indian batters at Vizag.
Venue: Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium
Date: 17 November 2016 (Thursday)
Time: 04:00 GMT / 09:30 IST
Broadcast: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD 1 in English / Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD 3 in Hindi
Online Stream: www.hotstar.com
The biggest news coming out of the Indian camp is that of the return of Karnataka opening batsman KL Rahul to the squad. The BCCI announced yesterday that Rahul will be joining the squad as the 16th member after his impressive comeback from injury in the Ranji trophy where he scored 76 and 106 for Karnataka against Rajasthan. Rahul had injured his hamstring while batting, in the first Test against New Zealand at Kanpur.
Coach Anil Kumble all but confirmed that Rahul was going to feature at Vizag as he said, "Yes, Rahul is available for selection and you would want Rahul to be in the starting line-up, that's the reason he has been included." Gautam Gambhir will be the one axed in favour of the Karnataka batsman, after the left-hander struggled at Rajkot, with scores of 29 and 0.
Elsewhere, there is a question mark hanging over the place of leg-spinner Amit Mishra, after he failed to have any sort of impact in the first test. But a turning track at Vizag might just come to his rescue as India will look to field all three frontline spinners.
There might be an outside chance that Hardik Pandya will be handed a debut in the place of Umesh Yadav, just to add some depth to the batting line-up, after the batting failure on the final day at Rajkot.
England were highly impressive at Rajkot, with all their batsmen except for Ben Duckett faring well. The fast bowlers, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad also bowled their hearts out while the inexperienced spin trio of Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari and Adil Rashid caught everyone by surprise.
England pace spearhead James Anderson is expected to be fit for the Test, and will be hoping to make a comeback after being out since August due to a stress fracture in his right shoulder. But the 34-year old will most likely have to wait for the third test at Mohali to do so.
Expect England to field the same line-up that almost managed to get a victory at Rajkot.
India: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav / Hardik Pandya.
England: Alastair Cook (C), Haseeb Hameed, Joe Root, Ben Duckett, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Chris Woakes, Zafar Ansari, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad.
Vizag is all set to host its first ever Test match, becoming the 24th Test Match venue in India and all eyes are on the pitch here, which is expected to offer prodigious amount of turn for the spinners. The BCCI curator, Kasturi Sriram, has said before the match that the surface might start assisting spin from as early as day two.
"There will not be much grass and we should expect the ball to turn from lunch on Day 2," he said, speaking to the PTI.
Team India will be surely hoping that their spinners will come to the party after disappointing in Rajkot.
The batsmen will have their work cut out as it will be a lot more challenging for them to get runs than it was in Rajkot. Expect a good contest between the bat and the ball at Vizag.
#1 This will be the first Test match to be played at the ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium at Vizag, making it India’s 24th Test match venue. Amit Mishra has fond memories of this ground, as he picked up a 5-fer in the final ODI against New Zealand last month. His 5 for 18 remains the best performance by a bowler at this venue in One-Day Internationals.
#2 Team India’s captain Virat Kohli is the leading run-scorer at this venue with 399 runs in 4 ODI innings at an average of 99.75. And his team will be hoping he carries his terrific form in ODIs at this venue into test matches as well.