The second Test of the India England series at Trent Bridge, Nottingham is headed for yet another showdown, particularly since India have pride amongst other things to redeem while England are hungry for the no.1 Test rank with a point or two to prove.
Even England know that there was plenty of hard work involved, not to mention an underperforming Indian team, that brought about success in the first Test at Lord’s to take a 1-0 lead. Now it is England that will want to continue to put pressure on the visitors in the hope that England can overpower India twice in succession to prove that they are worthy of the no.1 Test team tag. Thereafter all India can do to hold on would be to win both remaining Tests which will not be easy.
It is the reason why England will look for an outright win, nothing less at Nottingham. However, it will not come without a fight. But whether the fight will intensify from the visiting Indian cricket team remains to be seen, not because the question is not whether they have the stomach for the fight but whether they have the personnel to do. For one, Zaheer Khan will not be leading the attack, not having recovered completely from the hamstring injury he suffered that put him out of the first Test on the first day itself, plunging India’s plans. Although England have their worries in the fitness of Chris Tremlett’s, it is not likely to pose quite the same loss as Zaheer does in the context of Indian cricket.
Sachin Tendulkar is expected to come back fighting fit from the viral fever that laid him low during the course of the Lord’s Test while India continue to dilly dally over whether Gautam Gambhir is really fit for the second Test, changing their mind twenty-four hours after it was suggested that Gambhir had overcome his elbow injury and would partner Abhinav Mukund. India are already a man down in that department without Virender Sehwag. So, the opening slot is once again a touchy subject for India.
It has to be said that England look a lot better prepared under the circumstances, given that their batting has been in reasonable good form, with plenty by way of rearguard action. Their bowling has been relentless against India and their general mood, confidence and aura has been of a team that has aspirations for the top spot but has come sufficiently prepared for the work it will take to get there.
In contrast, India have had a grueling first Test, one that was filled with situations where the Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has had to think on his feet. Rahul Dravid has had to do a tremendously versatile job to keep the engine running and India have not had much by way of action to suggest that they have landed in England at the no.1 Test team, deserving of respect. It is quite apparent by now that India are going to have to earn their title once more and it will mean they will have to fight like champions. The good news is India have been on a spree, defying notions about them on the way to conquering both the short and long formats. Hopefully Dhoni has had the opportunity to remind the Indian dressing room on a rewind mission to find the magic portion that made them such a formidable force in the first place.
There is no Lord’s hype to the Trent Bridge Test. No over the top write ups about Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th 100. The mission is now focused on the two teams and whether they will let their caliber come through in a rather tense battle for the crown.