Last week, England pulled off something which no other team ever did in 91 years of Test match cricket in India. They beat India at home after they had taken a lead of 190 runs. This was the first instance of India losing a home Test after being so far ahead of the game. Overall, it was only the second time when Inda lost after taking a lead of over 100. England did this with a spin attack that had a debutant (Tom Hartley) and another one (Rehan Ahmed) only in his second Test.
It was as big as it gets. England captain Ben Stokes said it was one of the biggest Test wins of his career. One can’t fault him for feeling like that. But the England all-rounder knows winning a Test match in India is one thing and maintaining that lead to go on and win the series is another. The latter hasn’t happened in India in the last 17 series. India have won all of them.
Stokes is well aware that India will come back hard. “It was a great last week We have got that out of our minds. We know India will come back hard. It’s a new game, a new wicket,” he said after India won the toss in the second Test in Visakhapatnam and opted to bat.
India have done exactly that in the last two home series against England. In 2016, the first Test was drawn. India ended up winning the next four to take the series 4-0. In 2021, England won the first Test. India’s response was a hat-trick of wins to snatch the series 3-1.
“To come from behind like we did was very pleasing then to end on the right side was obviously great We’ll take the confidence from that, but as I said, a new week now, so we’ve got to start again. Coming out in India is an experience in itself. It is an amazing atmosphere to play in for the boys. To get such an opportunity at the start of their career will do wonders for their confidence,” Stokes said.
If the initial impression was anything to go by then there was a clear shift in India’s approach. But it may not be the one that everyone expected. India’s defensive approach in the second innings was questioned. The expectation, therefore, was an attacking response in the second Test just like it was in their first innings in Hyderabad. But captain Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal scored at two runs an over against the new ball. Rohit was dismissed by debutant Shoaib Bashir after scoring 14 off 41 balls.
Jaiswal who took Tom Hartley out of the attack in the first innings in Hyderabad, did not play one attacking shot in the first hour of play.
England have made two changes to their XI. Shoaib Bashir and James Anderson have come in for Jack Leach and Mark Wood.
India on the other hand were forced to make two changes. Inured KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja were replaced by Rajat Patidar (debut) and Kuldeep Yadav. Mohammed Siraj was given a break. Mukesh Kumar was drafted into the XI in his place.