India, who came into the home series against England upbeat and as firm favourites, were given a reality check when they lost the first Test. The hosts were beaten fair and square as the English batters led by Joe Root outshone and outbatted them before the spinners came into play and picked up regular wickets to dent India’s first innings. After a short English second innings, India were always going to find it difficult to chase down a huge target of 420 and they fell short by 227 runs.
Now, with the second Test in Chennai looming, a lot of talk has been about what playing XI India would go with for the second Test. The team combination in the first Test clearly didn’t work, especially in the spin department as nobody was able to complement Ravichandran Ashwin who bowled his heart out. Similarly, the top order was a bit problematic as well which could lead to changes.
Here is the predicted line-up for the second Test.
Top Order: Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara
Rohit Sharma faltered in both the innings for India and failed to provide a healthy start. There would thus be a case for dropping him in favor of Mayank Agarwal who has a terrific record at home. While Rohit is bound to be the permanent opener for India going forward, the second Test might be the perfect opportunity to rest him and try out a proven performer in home Tests.
The other opening slot is not in doubt as Shubman Gill looked solid in both innings of the first Test before getting out. Cheteshwar Pujara at No. 3 is irreplaceable.
Middle Order: Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant
Ajinkya Rahane had a woeful start to the series as he ended up scoring a 1 and a duck. He got out to a needless shot while coming down the track for a full toss in the first innings while he was beaten all ends up by a reverse-swinging James Anderson delivery in the second. Despite his recent struggles at home, him being the vice-captain and his knack for scoring under pressure would definitely keep him in the team.
The other two batters in the middle-order pick themselves. Virat Kohli is the captain and he looked solid in the second innings of the first Test. Rishabh Pant continues to impress with his brave knocks and he will thus, keep his place.
All-Rounders/Spinners: Washington Sundar, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin
All the spinners who might be picked in the second Test are all-rounders. Shahbaz Nadeem who struggled in the first Test with his lines and lengths as well as with bowling no-balls is almost certain to be dropped. Axar Patel who is fit again would take his place. Ravichandran Ashwin is a given in the team.
The other spinner is where there would be dilemma. With Axar Patel back, India will have added batting depth. There could thus be a case for dropping Washington Sundar who performed well with the bat but not with the ball, in order to strengthen the bowling attack. However, it might seem ruthless to drop a 2-Test old player who has performed in both Tests and that could see him keep his place.
Bowlers: Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah
There don’t seem to be any doubts with regard to the pace attack. Both Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah looked good on a flat track in Chennai. There could be a case however, for resting one of the two. In such a case, Mohammed Siraj who performed exceedingly well in Australia could come in to the playing XI.