India could go for one change to their playing XI in the second Test against England starting Saturday with Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem making way for fit-again all-rounder Axar Patel after his poor show in the series-opener in Chennai. While Nadeem’s replacement will be decided by Friday, one can expect Patel to replace him after his debut was put on hold by an injury. India were outplayed in the first Test that ended on Tuesday. “Axar had a minor knee niggle and has already started batting at the nets. He is expected to start bowling during the next couple of days,” a senior BCCI source told PTI on Wednesday.
“He was always the first choice to play the opening Test but it will depend on skipper Virat Kohli, head coach Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharath Arun,” he added. Indian captain Virat Kohli didn’t hide his disappointment when it came to Nadeem’s performance during the post-match presentation where he said that he and Washington Sundar couldn’t keep up the pressure that was created by Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Nadeem had four wickets in all but gave away 233 runs in 59 overs across two innings with an economy rate of close to 4 runs per over. And if that wasn’t enough, as a slow bowler, a total of nine no balls at the Test match level can be considered criminal.
Nadeem himself admitted that he has had some issues with the timing of his jump at the crease and he needs to sort that out in the nets. Washington bowled 26 overs for 98 runs in the first innings and got a solitary over in the second innings.
However, Washington, who was impressive with the bat in the first innings, is likely to retain his place in the playing XI.
A welcome news for India will be that Ashwin is doing fine after he sustained a painful blow from a Jofra Archer short ball during the Indian second innings and needed immediate attention from the physio Nitin Patel.
India’s best bowling performer in Chennai wasn’t required to go for any precautionary scans which will certainly be a relief for Kohli as he expects a friendlier pitch during the next Test starting from Saturday.
After one of the flattest decks on offer during the first Test in Chennai, task will be cut out for Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s rookie curator V Ramesh Kumar and BCCI head of pitches and grounds committee head Taposh Chatterjee, to provide a track which doesn’t make toss so crucial.
While currently, there is grass cover on one of the adjacent strips, which could be used for the second match, it is a given that there will be fair share of turn. It will be interesting to see whether Ramesh and Chatterjee stop watering the track during the next three days. If a dry pitch is baked adequately in sunshine, there could always be a case of pitch breaking early.
There is always this school of thought in Indian cricket circles as to why questions are raised about tracks that offer turn from the first day whereas in places like Christchurch in New Zealand, the 22-yard strip couldn’t be identified from the outfield. Ditto for Basin Reserve in Wellington where the ball was jagging around from the first hour.