Preview - 2nd Test, England versus India, Trent Bridge
The first Test served up some exceptional individual performances from both Teams. That made for a compelling match with England prevailing. Sadly it was also hugely impacted on by the injuries besetting India, that also looms large here in the 2nd Test. This will be a crucial factor in regards to how India is allowed to perform against an England Team brimming with confidence and firing on all cylinders.
The English might be forced into a change with Chris Tremlett having issues with his hamstring. Though in truth this could work in their favour with his likely replacement in Tim Bresnan being a very fine swing bowler. For fine swing bowlers at Trent Bridge are like ‘ducks to water’ such are the conditions to their liking. Likely Team:
Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan, Prior, Broad, Swann, Bresnan/Tremlett, Anderson
The Indian’s in truth are in a mess. This largely because of injuries to key men in Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag and then huge doubt over Gautam Gambhir. Then the concern over Harbhajan Singh‘s lack of the form with the ball. That would normally lead to his omission, but the lack of a ready made replacement makes this a dodgy prospect. From the point of view that they could be even more ineffectual than Harbhajan. Likely Team:
Mukund, Gambhir/Yuvraj, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Raina, Dhoni, Praveen, Harbhajan, Ishant, Sreesanth,
Truth Time About The Teams…..
When I think of the English on the eve of this Test I think of that 80′s Pop song ‘The Future’s so bright I gotta to wear shades’
Lets put that view in context.
England just won the 1st of a four Test series and are brimmed full of confidence. Amidst this India lost a crucial play in their spear head Zaheer Khan, as well as injury to Gautam Gambhir to put him in doubt here. Adding to Virender Sehwag on the sidelines. Then with these things hugely in their favour. They arrive at a venue in Trent Bridge that is tailor made for their Team in terms of favouring swing. Even when they have an injury concen over Chris Tremlett, the touted replacement in Tim Bresnan in these conditions. Might indeed be a blessing in disguise.
On the field the performance in the first Test was a very impressive and complete- especially with the ball. Then when you think of the catches that England dropped, that they rarely if ever do. They can indeed improve too.
Dissecting the line up, ill start with the main concerns first and save the best to last. Firstly Andrew Strauss has continued with his struggles, but the omission of Zaheer Khan would be a huge fillip for him. Taking away a bowler that is a nightmare for left handers and who would have justifiably victimised Strauss’s weakness against them. So you would expect Strauss to perform admirably. Of more concern is Graeme Swann and him being able to be a factor with his off spin against the masters of spin the Indian’s. This wont be a huge factor in this game where pace is expected to dominate, but could become more so as the series goes forward. Especially if the Indian’s make a comeback.
The rest of the line up is starting to take on an Aussie demeanour. In regards to having 11 men on the field that all can make compelling contributions when needed. England’s strength is their lack of star power in their line up. Making them a Team of 11 very fine players and reliant on none to carry them. That makes them a Team that is so hard to break down. Even from the 1st test, a man written off by many in Staurt Broad was stellar with both bat and ball. His rise and contribution to the cause especially with ball dispelled one of the key queries before the series. In regards to England’s ability to get 20 wickets against an iconic Indian batting line up.
Key Man: James Anderson
The English bowling is workmanlike rather than being stellar, but when Anderson bowls how he can he lifts them considerably. In conditions here in the 2nd Test tailor made for him, he could be a real wrecking ball for the Indian batting.
How England Will Win
The English just have to maintain the complete performance from Lords and brush up on their usually stellar fielding to prevail here. Also victimise the holes left in the Indian line up through injury and then also apply the blow torch on Harbhajan Singh. To the point where he is rendered impotent
The Indian’s are notoriously slow starters in series. Which in truth smacks of unprofessionalism and is a huge indictment on the new Duncan Fletcher regime. Who should have been determined to have the Team switched on from ball one in this much hyped series. The first Test defeat was greatly impacted on by injuries to key personnel within the game and this looms as a huge factor going into this Test
I say this for India always hits back hard after their slow starts, but with Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag already out and then a huge doubt on Gautam Gambhir. It will make it very difficult to have enough powder in their cannons to blast England down. Also the absences of these three throws the line up into upheaval. In regards to the leader of the attack being down as well as their two opening batsmen. Forcing India to replace with lesser players and of even more concern having part timers in the crucial opening position.
Then of concern on the field revolves around two key members of the Team in M.S.Dhoni and Harbhahjan Singh. In the first test Dhoni’s keeping, batting and Captaincy was absolute rubbish. So if India has any chance to fight back into the series he needs to improve greatly in all three departments. Especially his Captaincy, that was ruefully defensive in all regards and only served to benefit England. On to Harbhajan, in truth he should be dropped, such was his impotence at Lords. Though he will more than likely be retained on the basis of his pedigree and the fact that there are replacements for him. Though all have huge question marks against them.
If he remains the non even he was in the 1st Test, the English will just milk him and with this greater pressure will fall on an Indian bowling unit without it’s leader Zaheer Khan.
Away from this gloom is the fact that India still has names like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman in it’s line up. So writing them off would be very unwise. In the first Test we also saw very promising performances by Suresh Raina with the bat and Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma with the ball. If they can continue with this rise they can compliment the icons in the Indian line up and make a comeback in the series possible
Key Man: Ishant Sharma
The loss of Zaheer Khan is huge to India robbing them of their bowling spearhead. Though promisingly in his lethal spell in the English second innings at Lords. Ishant showed he has all the class and skill to lead the attack. Here in a Test favourable to bowlers he could be a huge factor
How India Can Win
The Indian’s need to use the skill in the batting to support their bowling. Thus in my mind their best chance is to be very proactive by batting first and backing their line up to be good enough to get an impressive 1st innings score. Then with this they can use it to apply pressure on the English through the weight of runs on the board. Which would relieve pressure off their bowling and with it allow them to perform at a higher level by having the English batsmen under the pump
The difference in this match is the fact that England is a very settled line up, whereas India is a Team beset by injuries and question marks over players in their line up.
Thus with this in mind, this is how I see the chances in this match:
England Win- 75%
India Win- 24%
Barring rain in my mind England is an overwhelming favourite to win this 2nd Test.