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India Vs England, 2nd Test, Preview: Rohit Sharma & Co Eye To Counter 'Bazball' In Visakhapatnam

Three years ago, the mighty hosts found themselves in a similar situation having lost the opening Test to England at Chennai but bounced back to win the series

AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
Tom Hartley, right, celebrates the wicket of Yashasvi Jaiswal, second right, on the fourth day of the first Test match in Hyderabad AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
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An under-pressure and under-resourced India will need to think out of the box to counter England's fearless bunch of 'Bazballers' in the second Test beginning in Visakhapatnam on Friday. (Streaming | More Cricket News)

India are seldom stretched at home but following a dramatic loss in Hyderabad, they have plenty to ponder and the absence of injured Ravindra Jadeja and K L Rahul has made their task tougher.

Three years ago, the mighty hosts found themselves in a similar situation having lost the opening Test to England at Chennai but bounced back to win the series.

However, the Joe Root-led side was a different breed then and this time India planned to fight back against a team that has redefined the way Test cricket is played and defied all probability to win the series opener after conceding a 190-run lead on a turning track.

England batters, led by Ollie Pope, swept and reverse-swept their way to success in the first Test, taking Rohit and his bunch by surprise while making the most potent spin trio in the world look ordinary.

India won't have the luxury of fielding Jadeja in this game but Ashwin, four shy of the 500-wicket milestone in Tests, and Axar will need to redraw their plans to come back hard at their uber-aggressive opponents who are sure to employ the sweeping tactics irrespective of the conditions.

“It's important that we respond and come up with some plans and some strategies and see how we can make him play those shots from probably even more difficult lengths and be even more disciplined and even more meticulous with our execution,” India head coach Rahul Dravid had said after the 28-run defeat last week.

“I thought a little bit of our execution went off. Not by much. Credit to him (Ollie Pope), but we were a little bit off and, hopefully, in the next Test match, if we get our execution right, then I hope he makes a mistake,” he added.

Kuldeep Yadav is expected to play in Jadeja's absence and it remains to be seen if India go in with only one pacer in Jasprit Bumrah and play another spinner, possibly off-spinning all-rounder Washington Sundar.

Uncapped left-arm spinner Sourabh Kumar has also been added to the squad.

Not only were India's lethal spinners tested against Bazball, but their batters’ struggles on turning tracks also came to the fore as left-arm spinner Tom Hartley transformed a seemingly forgettable debut into a match-winning one.

Rohit, perhaps, was the only frontline batter who looked assured in the second innings while the young brigade, especially Shubman Gill, were guilty of playing the turning ball with hard hands.

The defensive approach of Gill, who had a breakout in 2023 in the shorter formats, contributed to his downfall.

With Virat Kohli set to return in the third Test, there will be immense pressure on the likes of Gill and even Shreyas Iyer to deliver here in Vizag.

The home team batters are not as comfortable as their English counterparts in playing the sweep but they need to find a way to match the visitors' high-risk play.

Rajat Patidar, who was also a part of the squad in Hyderabad, is likely to replace Rahul.

After scoring a bagful of runs in domestic cricket, Sarfaraz Khan has finally got the selectors' nod and would be desperate for an India cap.

However, the management will have a closer look at conditions before taking a final decision on the playing 11.

England, on the other hand, might sense a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series that can severely mount pressure on the Indians.

The way Stokes used and backed his resources in the opener was a captaincy masterclass.

The call to give an extended spell to debutant spinner Hartley in the first innings despite Yashasvi Jaiswal's brutal assault and learning from how Ashwin and Co. bowled spoke a lot about the leadership style of Stokes, who calls himself a great observer of the game.

The tourists also have a point of concern after experienced left-arm spinner Jack Leach has been ruled out of the match because of a knee injury.

Young off-spinner Shoaib Bashir might come in place for him but that also has ruled out coach Brendon McCullum’s desire to field an all-spin attack.

“If the wickets continue to spin as much as what we saw in the first Test as the series goes on, look, we won't be afraid to play all spinners or a balance of what we've got,” head coach Brendon McCullum had told SEN Radio.

Pacer Mark Wood had failed to make an impact in Hyderabad and the visitors might think of giving a go to veteran James Anderson or younger names in Gus Atkinson or Ollie Robinson as their accuracy can bring higher value on a slow, low pitch.

The ACA-VDCA stadium has staged two Tests to date and the pitch usually favours the batters in the first innings. England have thrown down the gauntlet with a sensational result and it remains to be seen what kind of surface India go with as they seek to draw parity.

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A downright turner could backfire on the hosts, though they would be tempted to take that punt.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat (WK), Dhruv Jurel (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Avesh Khan, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, Sourabh Kumar.

England: Ben Stokes (captain), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Shoaib Bashir, Dan Lawrence, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Mark Wood.

Match starts at 9.30 AM

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