But in the end, it did not even matter! Such was the story of Virat Kohli after his team finally folded out after a little over 3 days of breath-taking cricket. The reaction of the man who broke the spine of the Indian batting by picking up the prized wicket of Kohli said it all.
Ben Stokes was emotionally drained after the game and could barely talk during one of the post-match Interviews. India was so close yet so far, but with every defeat also comes it’s set of problems. While it’s important to focus on the positives ( India had many in this case) it is also equally important to figure out how one could do better.
What if India would have played Pujara instead considering his style of batting was exactly what the doctor ordered today. What if Kuldeep played instead of Hardik? Even though the all-rounder showed some resistance towards the end, a couple of extra wickets by Yadav would have been pure gold! Should KL have played at all? There are so many questions for India to answer just like the home-side who would have certainly realised what a quality side India is and they dare not take them lightly! Having said that life doesn’t go ahead with ifs and buts because if it did, – “If my aunt had a beard she would have been called my uncle”.
England was certainly the better team, maybe just a margin but they still were and certainly deserves all the credit. Even more than Virat Kohli because they played like a team and India played with a set of bowlers with just 1 batsman. So what can India do to make this better? Should India make any changes to their playing XI ahead of the second Test Match? Let’s take a look”
Predicted XI For The India vs England 2nd Test Match 2018 At Lords
Opening Combination- KL Rahul and Murali Vijay
There is a serious possibility that we might not see Shikhar Dhawan who was under pressure ever since he was selected. Technically, he was still India’s second highest run scorer in the second innings but it’s the manner of his dismissal which might go against him. Everyone expected Dhawan to knick one behind like he often does in overseas conditions and with all due respect to him, he knicked two!
No, KL did not play well either but it would be unfair to judge a player on literally his first audition in Test Match Cricket in England on a pitch which only the bowlers and Virat Kohli loved. Yes, also Sam Curran and Joe Root to an extent.
Number 3- Cheteshwar Pujara
Pujara needs to be back and in all probability will be. He was dropped from the playing XI to accommodate god knows either of Dhawan or KL Rahul but while barring Kohli everyone else failing to make an impact, The Indian Captain would want to towards the ‘Calmness’ of Pujara. Maybe he might just finally find company and is not required to bat with the tailenders any more. Maybe not. Who knows?
Number 4- Virat Kohli
This one is a no-brainer. This position is owned by the world’s best batsman- Virat Kohli, a man who has just increased his brand equity by proving himself in the only country he had left to conquer.
Number 5- Ajinkya Rahane
The right-hander is one of India’s best overseas batsman and should certainly not be the scape-goat. Kohli, on the other hand, is mature enough as a captain and would realise that it was a mistake dropping him in South Africa. Having said that, the captain always has a reason, the captain should always have a reason rather and you never know what factors combine to drop/include a player in the playing XI.
Number 6- Rishabh Pant
While I mean no disrespect to Dinesh Karthik as he tried hard, he always has in-fact, more than his batting it was his keeping which also let him down. Considering he failed with the willow in hand and also behind the stumps at the same time, Kohli might just want to give the young Rishabh Pant a chance. if he does well, it’s a double bonus keeping the 2019 World Cup in mind. Having said that, there is another side of me which tells me not to be so harsh on the hard-working Dinesh Karthik. He has runs behind him and it’s unfair to judge him in just a single outing. So glad I am not the captain of the team!
Number 7- Ravichandran Ashwin
It seemed like everyone had forgotten what a great bowler Ravichandran Ashwin was. It was a clear case of out of sight, out of mind! The off-spinner was absolutely sensational with the ball in hand and picked up 7 wickets throughout the course of the game. Alistar Cook would know what a ‘World Class Operator’ Ashwin is when on song.
Number 8- Hardik Pandya
As much as I would wish India to attack a little more and go ahead with Kuldeep Yadav to further choke the English with spin, India would like the extra cushion of Hardik Pandya. The fact that he crossed 20 in both the innings when a lot of top batsmen failed to do so, Hardik is likely to get another chance. Yes, he did not pick up a single wicket and that might go against him but India barely required his services with the ball which could also go back towards him as they might not need Kuldeep either.
Number 9- Mohammad Shami
Picked up 3 wickets in the first innings and even though he went wicket-less in the second, the right arm fast bowler looked in good rhythm. The fact that there is no Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah either, Shami is certainly going nowhere.
Number 10- Ishant Sharma
While everyone was expecting Ishant Sharma to be the leader of the pack, the right arm fast bowler continued to build pressure and be the work-horse of the team in the first innings. Having said that, Sharma did finally rise beyond surface level initiatives the second time around and picked up 5 vital wickets to keep India in the hunt. He created magic at the Lords last time around and with the form he has picked up, there is no reason that he can’t repeat the same.
Number 11- Umesh Yadav
He looks like a fast bowler, behaves like a fast bowler and indeed bowls with express pace. While Umesh wasn’t at his best, he was the one responsible for stopping Sam Curran’s carnage. The right arm fast bowler bowled with decent pace throughout and managed to pick 3 wickets in the entire game. Nothing great but not bad either considering as far as the Indian bowlers were concerned, while a few stood out, it was mostly a team effort, unlike their batsmen.
We would love to know if you agree with our playing XI or think otherwise? What is your predicted XI For The India vs England second Test Match at Lords? Comment below with your playing XI and let’s get the conversation cracking!