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regular-article-logo Monday, 17 June 2024

India regroup to play smart and with intent in second Test against England in Visakhapatnam

Teams work on reverse sweep as hosts try to get back on level terms in series

Sayak Banerjee Visakhapatnam Published 01.02.24, 06:02 AM
Skipper Rohit Sharma in conversation with young India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal during practice on Wednesday, ahead of the second Test against England in Visakhapatnam. Jaiswal made 80 in the first innings in Hyderabad. The second match starts on Friday.

Skipper Rohit Sharma in conversation with young India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal during practice on Wednesday, ahead of the second Test against England in Visakhapatnam. Jaiswal made 80 in the first innings in Hyderabad. The second match starts on Friday. PTI picture

A week ago, going into this Test series, finding themselves one game down in a five-match series at home was probably the last thing Team India would have comprehended.

But such has been the impact of Ollie Pope, Tom Hartley and Bazball overall in the series opener in Hyderabad — where England registered a brilliant come-from-behind 28-run victory — that Rohit Sharma and Co. seem to be doing a re-think in terms of their strategies for the second Test beginning at the ACA-VDCA Stadium on Friday.

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An indicator of this re-think was employing the reverse sweep, which turned out to be one of the main characteristics of India’s training session at the stadium’s practice facilities on Wednesday. Almost each and every batsman was seen practising the reverse sweep, something that hasn’t really been noticed of late at the team’s nets sessions ahead of home Tests.

The Indian batsmen did draw flak for their over-defensive approach and lack of intent in the fourth innings in Hyderabad in pursuit of 231 on a pitch which was wearing but not unplayable by any standards. That certainly had made matters a tad easier for left-arm spinner Hartley, who went on to take seven wickets in his debut Test.

That intent is required in this second Test, where the batting line-up, already without Virat Kohli, will be missing KL Rahul (right quadriceps injury) and Ravindra Jadeja (left hamstring injury) as well. “There’s a difference between playing with intent and playing attacking cricket. I want them to play with intent,” India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour said ahead of the day’s training.

“If there is an opportunity to score some runs, they should take it. They need to decide by looking at the surface and conditions.

“So, the batters need to possess that intelligence as to which is the best or safest shot on the surface,” he added.

Playing cheeky shots do­esn’t appear to be the Indian batters’ strength as they look much more at ease in executing conventional strokes. However, adding a shot or two to their repertoire will be “beneficial”, Rathour said.

“You need to be prepared for them by practising. If we can add more shots and score square of the wicket, that’s always an addition,” he said.

Gill, Iyer form

Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer, both struggling for runs, had a long nets session on Wednesday. Gill, who has bar­ely made any contribution since his 128 against Australia last March on a docile Ahmedabad wicket, batted for close to an hour.

If the duo again fail to come up with anything of note in the coming Test, the calls to replace them may well get louder, though Rathour feels one should show a little bit of patience.

“There are young batters in our team who have not played enough Test cricket. So, we need to be a bit patient with them. Batters like Gill, (Yashasvi) Jaiswal and Iyer will eventually start getting big runs, I’m sure,” he said.

In what’s going to be the venue’s third Test, after India hosted South Africa here back in late 2019, the Andhra Cricket Association has planned a felicitation on Thursday for local and keeper-batter KS Bharat, who’s set for his maiden international appearance at home.

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