India and England had one big selection call to take for the first Test, of whether to play two spinners on an Edgbaston pitch which was expected to be spinner-friendly. India had to choose between Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul to partner Murali Vijay at the top of the order and, strangely, chose to include all three specialist openers and slot Rahul at No. 3.
The make-up of the two teams was similar: six batsmen (including the wicketkeeper), one all-rounder and four specialist bowlers.
England, though, were rewarded for showing faith in Sam Curran, who had made his debut against Pakistan recently and played in place of Moeen Ali. His 87 runs in the Test and figures of 5/92 made the difference for England and led them to a 31-run win. Ben Stokes’ incisive spells in the first and second innings and his match figures of 6/113 were almost equally as important as Curran’s performances in the host taking a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
England’s playing XI for the 2nd Test
England will be without Stokes, who will appear at Bristol court on Monday (August 6) for his role in the nightclub brawl in September last year, for the second Test, while Dawid Malan has been dropped after scores of 8 and 20 in the first Test.
They have been replaced in the squad for the second Test by 20-year-old Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman Ollie Pope and Chris Woakes, respectively.
Woakes played the second Test against Pakistan in June, following which a knee injury kept him out of England’s limited-overs squads for the series against Australia and India.
He is likely to replace Stokes and bat at No. 7.
England will choose from Pope, Moeen Ali and Jamie Porter to replace Malan.
Pope’s inclusion in the squad comes on the back of a prolific season with the bat for Surrey in the Division One of the County Championship, in which he is the second-highest run-scorer with 684 runs.
Why include Pope?
Though a wicketkeeper, Pope being included as a pure batsman to replace Malan at No. 4 will make sense. For the simple reason that Pope is a ‘right-hand batsman’ and England will help themselves against Ravichandran Ashwin, five of whose seven wickets were of left-handers in the first Test, by including another right-hander in their top four.
Otherwise, having tasted success playing a lone spinner, England have no reason to alter the make-up of their team.
Probable England playing XI for 2nd Test: 1 Joe Root (c), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Keaton Jennings, 4 Ollie Pope, 5 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson
India’s playing 11 for 2nd Test
The proposition for the Indian team management with regards to choosing the team for the second Test at Lord’s isn’t as straightforward.
The major headache, though, is sorting out the first three positions in the batting line-up.
To drop Shikhar Dhawan or Lokesh Rahul after one Test will be a kneejerk reaction after showing faith by picking them in the playing XI for the first Test.
But, Dhawan’s inability to curb his natural instincts was laid bare in the first Test, and Rahul played a loose shot in the first innings to continue his poor run of scores in Test cricket since the tour of South Africa earlier this year.
The team management will also be under pressure to include Cheteshwar Pujara, who is one of the Test specialists and has been India’s No. 3 for years now.
That Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri are in favour of a right-left opening combination is evident, but Dhawan has had a string of low scores in overseas conditions since a productive 2014 tour of New Zealand.
One way or the other, the team management have a massive decision to make here.
Elsewhere in the line-up, Jasprit Bumrah is available for selection for the second Test. If he has recovered from the left thumb injury which had ruled him out of the T20I and ODI series against England, he becomes an automatic selection in India’s playing 11, potentially replacing Umesh Yadav.
Possible India playing 11 for 2nd Test: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Lokesh Rahul, 4 Cheteshwar Pujara, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravichandran Ashwin, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Umesh Yadav/Jasprit Bumrah