India clash with England in the all-important second Test in Chennai from tomorrow, Saturday the 13th of February. Having lost the series opener expect the home team to come out all guns blazing with a much improved performance at the same venue. What will make it into an intriguing contest is the number of superstars on both the sides. We look at 5 players who can potentially change the match on their own and take their team to victory.
Rohit Sharma has failed in his last 4 innings in India and would be desperate to make amends. Rohit’s Test career transformed when he was moved up to open the innings for India in 2019. He aggregated 556 runs in just 5 Tests (6 innings) at an average of 92.66 and strike rate of 75.95 including three hundreds. Rohit has the potential to score big at a very high rate at the top of the order for India. Not only does that demoralize the opposition bowling attack but also creates time for the Indian bowlers to bowl out the opposition twice.
2. Virat Kohli (India)
Virat Kohli has not had a great time across international cricket since the beginning of 2020. He has an aggregate of just 199 runs in 8 Test innings at an average of 24.87 in this time-frame. Kohli has not scored an international hundred post 2020. The Indian captain gave a glimpse of his greatness with a fine 72 in the second innings in Chennai. India needs their talisman to fire on all cylinders. Kohli would know the relevance of the second Test in the context of the series and the World Test Championship. Nothing less than a big hundred would do justice.
3. R Ashwin (India)
R Ashwin is India’s greatest match-winner with the ball at home in Test cricket. He has dominated the best batting line-ups in the most dominating era for any side at home in Test cricket history! Ashwin picked 6 wickets in the second innings in Chennai and with the wicket expected to offer more turn in the second Test, the local boy could be a handful with his crafty off spinners, slower ones, carrom balls and doosra.
Joe Root is in the form of his life. He has piled on two double hundreds and another big hundred in his last 5 Test innings – two of these innings against Sri Lanka in Galle and one against India in the series opener in Chennai. He has the highest average for an English batsman in Asia and has dominated the Indian and Sri Lankan spinners in their own backyard – a feat not accomplished by many overseas batsmen before, especially batsmen from SENA countries. Root is the playmaker for England in the middle order and it would be interesting to see whether he adopts the same tactics of sweeping the spinners in the second Test too with the wicket expected to offer a little more turn to the bowlers.
5. Dom Sibley (England)
Dom Sibley is the unsung hero for England opening the innings for them in alien conditions, mastering them and coming out on top. It was his 200 run stand with Root which was the defining partnership of the series opener in Chennai. Sibley has produced 4 brilliant performances in four different series for England in his short career – one in South Africa, one against West Indies at home, then in Galle and finally probably the best of the lot in Chennai. He has all the qualities of a good opener – an excellent temperament, mentally tough, patience and attaches a huge price to his wicket.