England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge

Long odds for injury-hit India

The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran

July 28, 2011

Comments: 155 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

July 29- August 2, Trent Bridge
Start time 1100 (1000 GMT, 1530 IST)


Harbhajan Singh arrives for a batting net, Nottingham, July 27, 2011
Is it time to replace a below-par Harbhajan Singh? © AFP
Enlarge

Big Picture

England's comprehensive victory at Lord's, with a performance hailed by their captain as "outstanding", has put them one step closer to the much-desired No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings. Some are already proclaiming them the best team in the world, irrespective of what the rankings say. Others suggest they aren't yet, and that judgment should be withheld until later in the series, given India's remarkable knack of bouncing back after defeats in series-openers.

An injury-hit India presents England with a great opportunity to settle the debate. MS Dhoni's side is crippled by the loss of arguably their most influential player, Zaheer Khan, due to a hamstring problem.

What will make it worse is if Gautam Gambhir, who is still recovering from a blow to the elbow he took in the first Test, joins the injury list. While India at least have a couple of back-up quick bowlers to choose from to replace Zaheer, Gambhir's absence could end up upsetting the batting configuration. One of three makeshift openers will have to be employed - Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid or Wriddhiman Saha - and the experienced middle order, India's biggest strength, could be exposed early to the swinging ball.

England start as favourites in Trent Bridge, but as India have repeatedly shown, they are a surprisingly resilient side, regularly managing to circumvent problems caused by their relatively weak bowling line-up. Can they do it once again?

Form guide (most recent first)

England WDDWW
India LDDWD

In the spotlight

Harbhajan Singh's place in the XI has rarely come under the scanner, especially after his ascension to the lead spinner's role after the retirement of Anil Kumble nearly three years ago. Now, though, questions are being asked after a run-of-the-mill performance in the Caribbean was followed up with a 1 for 218 at Lord's. While the track for the first Test didn't offer much for the spinners, Harbhajan's inability to keep the runs down hurt a Zaheer-less India. He needs three more caps to complete 100 Tests, a milestone he may not reach in this series unless he turns his form around.

At Trent Bridge four years ago, Matt Prior's career hit one of its lows when he faced a barrage of criticism for the infamous jelly bean saga. Now he returns to the venue acclaimed by some as the best Test wicketkeeper-batsman in the world. With four centuries in the past year and an average that has soared to the mid-forties, Prior has made quite a convincing case.

Team news

The most settled side in world cricket, England's only concern is the hamstring problem that is troubling their tall fast bowler Chris Tremlett. Andrew Strauss is confident Tremlett will be fit to play but even if he isn't, there's a ready replacement in Tim Bresnan. The rest of the XI are certain picks.

England 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Andrew Strauss (capt), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Chris Tremlett/Tim Bresnan, 11 James Anderson

India have more to ponder. The good news for Indian fans is Sachin Tendulkar has recovered from the viral fever that troubled him in the first Test. The bad news is that Zaheer is out and Gambhir could join him on the sidelines. Sreesanth is likely to get his first Test since Cape Town six months ago, and Yuvraj Singh could get yet another shot at reviving his Test career.

India 1 Abhinav Mukund, 2 Gautam Gambhir/Yuvraj Singh, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Sreesanth

Pitch and conditions

This is a ground that is famous for its swing, and teams have struggled to score big in recent years. India's phalanx of experienced batsmen can expect a thorough workout against an on-song England pace attack.

The clouds are expected to stay away this week, with warm and dry weather forecast.

Stats and trivia

  • Trent Bridge has been one of the most challenging Test venues for batsmen since 2005, with only Sabina Park having a lower runs-per-wicket ratio.
  • James Anderson has an outstanding record at Trent Bridge, bagging 28 wickets at 15.89 in four Tests
  • In this match, Tendulkar will become the first man to play 100 away Tests. The next person on the list is Rahul Dravid with 87 overseas Tests.
For a full stats analysis, click here.

Quotes

"We don't want to look at the negatives, we want to look at the positives, this will give a chance for someone to become a hero."
MS Dhoni makes light of the injuries to key India players

"If we can make it 2-0 here this week we are in a brilliant position to win the series. We aren't looking at Edgbaston or The Oval."
Andrew Strauss is focusing on the here and now

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by SouthPaw on (July 29, 2011, 14:01 GMT)

Hi Siddarth & all others, I request you to see the picture accompanying the story - can you see a ball anywhere there? Isn't Harbhajan supposed to be a bowler?!!! On the other hand, when you see Gambhir or Dravid or Tendulkar, do they walk in to the nets with a ball?

Now we know where the problem lies, absolutely whacko sense of priority.

Posted by Marcio on (July 29, 2011, 12:27 GMT)

I see England are batting first, another bit of good fortune for India. Still, they just don't have the bowlers to win, regardless of how many dodgy LBW decisions go their way (and they all seem to go their way). England to win this one by a large margin, with a slim chance of draw. And my God the Indian commentators are unbelievably biased - accusing the umpires of making up for a previous bad decision (Cook) when replays showed the ball clipping the stumps by a millimeter! Benefit of the doubt goes to the batsmen. How many dodgy, plumb decisions have India gotten away with not only in this series but others!

Posted by atuljain1969 on (July 29, 2011, 11:19 GMT)

Dhoni is proving to be defensive Captain now. Winning the toss, best thing is to Bat first. It shows, India is afraid of facing the Ball first, It is strange, as Indian Batting is supposed to be world class and therefore they need to give, good score to bowlers (weak point) to bowl at England. India should play to its strength and hence it is weird to bowl first.

Posted by awg3599 on (July 29, 2011, 10:58 GMT)

This could all go horribly wrong for India....Cook and Strauss with a point to prove after a lean first test, Trott is just Trott the run-machine, Pieterson seems to have rediscovered his MOJO and Morgan is unpredictable. Add a number 9 with a test 100 and there could be alot of ball chasing for 2 days unless India get early breakthroughs.....

Posted by   on (July 29, 2011, 10:34 GMT)

i will completely agree with vvs laxman .ad also with harbajan

Posted by atuljain1969 on (July 29, 2011, 10:31 GMT)

Question is whether Dhoni needs to gamble in selection of players. If last Test performance is any indicator, Dhoni should go with players who have been in W.Indies. Munaf qualifies on that basis. In place of Gambhir, only choice left is Yuvi. So rather then who is playing or not, it is time, Team India to come out with flying colours.

In Lord's test there were many times, when India Fought brilliantly, only to loose the steam thereafter. The momentum needs to be held ,only then therecould be some gain. England is after all, playing in their own backyard.

Posted by   on (July 29, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

Whenever Sachin scores a Hundred India lose and whenever scores 99* notout India win. :)

Posted by Guru1234 on (July 29, 2011, 10:23 GMT)

India Shall bounce back definitely.. if not WIN.. they shall DRAW... I wont say ENGLAND deserve to be No 1.. like the hue and cry most of the fans here seem to make.. because Lets see in ENG can win on its India tour to settle this out.. Perhaps.. adding Yuvraj should be good.. and Bhajji should get a chance to play this match to make amends.. if not dropped from next match.. and I am sure thats what is going to happen..

Posted by romanc on (July 29, 2011, 10:20 GMT)

What about Sehwag.If he is not fit why he is selected. Just for paying money

Posted by   on (July 29, 2011, 10:19 GMT)

India are still a very good team and people are writing them off too soon, I'm an England fan but won't be confident we will win the series until we've (hopefully!) actually won it.

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