India go into the Third Test against England with a 1-0 series lead thanks to a convincing with at Visakhapatnam.
Excellent performances from skipper Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin saw the hosts complete a comfortable win on a turning surface.
LWOS Cricket‘s Arjun Bhardwaj and Anirudh Srinivaas Eswaran discuss the questions surrounding the hosts ahead of the Third Test.
1. Is Virat Kohli the best Test batsman in the world?
AB: At the moment I believe Kohli is not quite the best in the world. He has had an incredible year but is lacking the overall consistency necessary to fulfil his entire potential. Controversially, I believe that Cheteshwar Pujara is in fact the best Test batsman in the world currently. This is due to his constant ability to score runs in all conditions and is extremely consistent, having scored hundreds in his last three Tests. Yet, if Kohli can rival the consistency of Pujara he will no doubt be the best in the world, due to his immense talent.
ASE: It’s hard to look beyond Virat Kohli when it comes to deciding who the best batsman in the world is at the moment. He has averaged almost 70 in this calendar year and has been nothing short of magnificent with the bat. Often a class of a player is determined by how they respond in tough conditions and they way he batted in Vizag, especially in the second innings, showed how good a player Kohli is. He made 81 at a fair rate and looked almost flawless during his innings. Of course, there are other contenders for the title, such as Joe Root and Kane Williamson, but his incredible performances off late makes it hard to look beyond him.
2. Is a 4-0 Series win beyond India?
AB: Definitely not. India looked excellent in the second Test, excelling with both bat and ball. If they can replicate such performances in the next few matches, they will no doubt dominate England.
However, India cannot afford to be complacent. As we saw in the second innings of the last Test, England will be stubborn opponents who will never give in easily. As a result of this, India will need to be patient and not be afraid to toil away for sessions to try and force a breakthrough. Moreover, if India’s middle and lower order fire they will become an unstoppable force in world cricket.
ASE: England have certainly given India a fair fight in this series so far.
They’ve been more competitive than sides such as Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa who’re arguably the best travelling side. England have displayed resilience and certainly shown that they can push India.
However, it’s entirely possible that India could wrap up this series 4-0 primarily because of the quality of the sides and their form, in these conditions. The spinners are looking threatening, most of the batsmen have been in good touch, as well. Also, should England lose at Mohali in the 3rd Test, it could all go downhill very quickly and their morale will be severely affected. In subcontinental conditions, it can be very difficult for England to make a comeback should they lose the next Test. India will back themselves to win the series, but whether they win it 4-0 or not, remains to be seen.
3. Would you make any changes to the side that won in Visakhapatnam?
AB: No. The are two areas which the selectors will be looking at heading into the upcoming encounter in Mohali. The first is the form of Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane hasn’t found any form recently and has looked out of place. Yet, I would still continue to play him at five, as he has shown in the past how talented a player he really is.
Historically, Mohali has aided the seamers but it doesn’t appear to the case this time. Therefore, I would keep the bowler composition the same and not rotate.
ASE: After the comprehensive victory at Vizag, India have some time off before the third Test. The team management will ponder over the changes. Wriddhiman Saha has been ruled out due to a thigh strain and Parthiv Patel have been named as the replacement who is set to play a Test Match for the first time after 2008. Apart from that, it’s difficult to see India make any other change. The debutant, Jayant Yadav put in an impressive performance and he’ll be expected to continue. The pacers did a commendable job, too and all the other batsmen will be expected to retain there spots. Mohali tends to be the most seam friendly tracks of all in India, but it’s early in the season and the pitches won’t be expected to assist the paceman too much. There really shouldn’t be a pressing need to change a winning combination apart from the enforced change of getting Patel in for Saha.