The health of test cricket is something that’s often discussed by cricket fans but last week’s opening test between England and India was a sensational one and we could be in for another engrossing test here.
The first clash between the two sides came down to a thrilling 90 minutes on Saturday when Ben Stokes proved to be the difference maker with the wicket of Virat Kohli after India had crept ever closer to a tantalising target of 191, although it was a brilliant test with ebbs and flows from start to finish.
India were kept in the game by Virat Kohli’s 200 runs across two innings, a masterful display, although he was dropped twice on 21 and 51 by Dawid Malan – and a man of the match performance by young Sam Curran not only taking four wickets in India’s first innings but then rescuing England from 87-7 in their second innings as they scored 180.
Despite a long hot summer, the ball had the edge over the bat with England 287 the highest total of the match as ground staff worked overtime to keep moisture in the pitch, and they were aided by a cool front in the Midlands over the preceding weekend.
Normally, Lord’s would just tip the balance in favour of bat over ball, as a venue which has traditionally seen more runs on the board than Edgbaston, and India would fancy their chances of levelling the series – not that they shouldn’t given that they managed to go toe to toe with England last week.
However, they would have been greatly advantaged if the test had started early this week, with London in the grip of another heatwave. However, by Thursday temperatures will have dropped to the low 20’s and currently, the weather is set to be cloudy with average temperatures of no more than 23 degrees on the first four days before we get rain on the fifth.
India must not be discounted, given the wonders that Ravichandran Ashwin worked with his seven wickets, along with the sensational spell that Ishant Sharma managed to put together through the second innings. There is also the considerable bonus of Ben Stokes being absent for this test.
However, in such conditions, they are completely dependent upon Virat Kohli. Kohli had to survive two drops before this 149 in the first innings and once he was trapped by Stokes on 51 in the second the game was always in England’s favour. India’s 10 other batsmen scored 214 between them and in India’s last 17 tests, when they have played Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand, Kohli has averaged 54.48; all the others in the top-seven collectively average 28.13.
That puts India at a serious disadvantage and the likely cloud cover will bring James Anderson and Stuart Broad into proceedings much earlier. The late swing of Sam Curran should be more pronounced in the conditions and whilst India can fight fire with fire, the hosts are best equipped to make it 2-0.
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