India vs England, 2nd Test: Virat Kohli's stay crucial; lower-middle order needs to step up on Day 2
If India do manage to cross the 550 mark, they will gain a significant psychological edge over England.
Having played the catching up game for the entire first Test, India faced a big test in the second. Virat Kohli and Co had to prove their ability to bounce back at Vizag after a less than perfect outing in Rajkot, but their test got a little easy when Kohli won the toss and elected to bat.
It didn't need an Einstein's mind to predict Kohli's decision, given the nature of the Vizag wicket which is expected to assist the spinners from day two itself.
The pitch looked placid to start off but England pacers Stuart Broad and James Anderson won the first hour for the visitors, scalping the wickets of the openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay. India were reduced to 22/2 and there was a chance for England to build up the pressure, but Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara didn't get bogged down and their aggressive and positive intent powered India to a dominant position at the end of day one. The duo added a massive 266 runs for the third wicket. Pujara, however, departed for 119 and the best bowler of the day, Anderson, gave England a slight opening when he sent back Ajinkya Rahane in the penultimate over of the day.
Kohli continued the run-scoring juggernaut as he brought up his fourth 150-plus score in Tests, and India reached 317/4 at the end of day one. Kohli is still unbeaten but the job is only half done. The Indian middle order has been struggling of late and this is the time to step up.
Anderson got decent swing with the second new ball that helped him scalp Rahane's wicket. Kohli's stay will now be crucial on day two. The pitch didn't trouble the batsmen much and might get better for batting on day two. This is where Kohli, the middle order and the in-form lower order need to cash in and try and reach the 550-600 run figure.
Of late, Kohli has shown a hunger for big hundreds, and with him at the crease, England might find it difficult to build pressure. The visitors bowled well in the first hour on Thursday and India would look to see off the difficult period on Friday, especially with second new ball being just two overs old.
If they do manage to cross the 550 mark, they will gain a significant psychological edge over England. However, their batsmen need to be careful of the variable bounce on this track. India's strategy would be to unsettle the spinners which Kohli and Pujara managed to do successfully. If they bat for two or two-and-a-half sessions on day two, they might reach the 550 mark and then look for early wickets in the last session. India have a long batting line up with Jayant Yadav being a part of the eleven and they must make the most of it to shut out one result completely - that of a loss!
England trail 2-1 after their 157-run defeat at the Oval ahead of Friday's decider at Old Trafford but head coach Chris Silverwood has made only minor alterations to his squad.
The trio has completed a 10-day isolation as per the UK Health Protocols but, to return home, they also need to pass a "fit to fly" test, apart from negative RT-PCR reports.
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