The second Test of the five-match series between India and England will take place on February 2, 2024, in Visakhapatnam. The game holds great significance for both teams. England leads the series 1-0 following a remarkable victory in Hyderabad and will look to maintain their momentum. India will aim to level the series with a comeback performance.
Dr Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam, the venue for the second Test, has been a successful ground for India in the past. Let’s just recall a win against England in 2016. The pitch conditions and expected dry and sunny weather may influence the teams’ strategies, favoring spinners.
India faces a challenging situation with key players missing from their lineup. KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja are ruled out due to injuries, and Virat Kohli remains unavailable for personal reasons. This situation provides an opportunity for players like Sarfaraz Khan, who might make his debut, and Rajat Patidar. The absence of Jadeja could lead to Washington Sundar or Kuldeep Yadav playing as a spinner.
England, carrying the confidence from their win in Hyderabad, have an entire squad to choose from, despite concerns over Jack Leach’s fitness. England’s strategy in the first Test, which included just one pace bowler and a heavy reliance on the spin, could continue if the pitch conditions favor spin bowling. The England team, led by Ben Stokes, will aim to capitalize on their current lead in the series.
The odds favor India, but the match will be a closely contested battle. The Test match allows players to step up without crucial team members and sets the stage for an exciting contest between two strong nations.
Probable Playing XI
Rohit Sharma (C), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Rajat Patidar/Sarfaraz Khan, KS Bharat (wk), Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav/Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah.
Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes (C), Jonny Bairstow, Ben Foakes (WK), Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach, Mark Wood.
Ravichandran Ashwin: If India want to win this contest, they need Ravichandran Ashwin at his best. He picked up six wickets in the last game and also played a crucial knock of 28 down the order in the second innings, which almost took India home. He will have a key role to play with both bat and ball in this match.
Ollie Pope: The youngster was the only English batter who looked at ease against the Indian spinners in the last game. Pope played a majestic knock of 196 in the second innings and completely batted India out of the contest. He has an equally vital role to play in this match.
While India might have the advantage of playing at home with conditions suited to their strengths, England’s current form and balanced team composition make them a formidable opponent. The match could swing either way, with both teams having equal chances of victory. It’s likely a closely contested match, possibly going down to the wire, with the team that adapts better to the conditions and handles pressure effectively coming out on top.