Former India batsman VVS Laxman has made an early prediction for the winner of the ongoing fourth Test. Asserting that India's 'world-class' batsmen will all look to make hay out of the batting friendly conditions at The Oval, Laxman backed Virat Kohli and co. to win the match.
The fast-paced Test match completed its Day 2 piquantly balanced. England, at one point down and out for 62-5, recovered to take a sizeable 99-run first-innings lead. Ollie Pope and Chris Woakes scored 81 and 50 runs respectively. In reply, the Indian openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma looked positive and together put up 43 runs on the board.
In an interaction with ESPNcricinfo, VVS Laxman said:
"I feel everyone in that Indian batting lineup will be eagerly looking forward to contributing in this innings. They are all world-class players and I am sure they'll come good. I am backing India to win this Test match... If India don't bat well tomorrow, they'll be really, really disappointed because you can't get a flatter wicket in England at the moment. They'll be disappointed if they don't cease this opportunity tomorrow."
The pitch has eased out quite a lot since the first day, partly because of the shaving of the grass cover and consistent sunshine. However, all that might change with the forecast of overcast conditions on Day 3. The first hour, as always, will be crucial.
India will hope to bat out the entire day and get a lead of at least 250 runs. That will require a joint effort from the batting order, which is yet to put in a convincing performance since the team's arrival in the UK in June.
VVS Laxman decifers Indian bowlers' troubles on Day 2
In a separate interaction with the same outlet, VVS Laxman had analyzed the troubles of India's pacer troika of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur.
Although they did well to restrict England's lower-order from running away with the game, Laxman observed that they lacked their usual penetration. He suspected that either they were tired or had picked up minor niggles due to the high workload.
VVS Laxman added:
"The penetration wasn't visible from the Indian bowlers. The intensity wasn't there apart from the couple of spells where the ball zipped through the surface. Somewhere I feel Bumrah and even Siraj are tired. Even Shardul Thakur was less penetrative. So I feel it was a combination of tiredness and niggles."
The Indian openers will start the day 56 runs behind England's total. Their first goal would be to wipe out the lead and then give the middle-order and lower-orders a platform to be aggressive.
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