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All the chatter about playing a second spinner in the Test side intensified after Kuldeep's enigmatic spells in the limited overs games left England much to mull over. Extended net sessions against spin and the 'Merlyn'- a spin bowling machine to counter the sharp turn extracted by the chinaman, which went some way in negating his threat post the 1st ODI. But the prospect of having a mystery spinner bowling on Day 3, 4 and 5 of a Test match is always tempting.
Off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had a whale of a time bowling to the raft of left handed batsmen, 7 to be precise. And while his 7 wickets on what was not necessarily a dry Edgbaston wicket was an accurate reflection of the way he bowled, he'll have to contend with perhaps 5 or 6 lefties.
This, of course, depends on who replaces the banned Ben Stokes. RCB duo Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali are frontrunners for perhaps that one all-rounder spot left vacant by Stokes. The struggling Dawid Malan was left out and in his place came a relatively unknown 20 year old - Ollie Pope, who's likely to make his International debut at No. 4. Surely, after witnessing Sam Curran's exploits at Edgbaston, Team India wouldn't be taking any 20 year old from Surrey for granted!
The game at Edgbaston was full of "had beens." Had Virat got more support from his Top 6, had India stopped Sam Curran from running away with the game while batting, had they played a second spinner? - the 31 run loss could have instead been a lead heading into Lords.
India would definitely attack better with a second spinner in the XI, but a genuine layer of grass on the Lords' wicket will preclude Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri's decision to do so.
The seam department performed admirably, though the batting prowess of someone like Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the lower order was and will still be missing. With Bumrah still not match ready, Umesh Yadav, who performed well, if not brilliantly can expect to hold onto his place with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya completing the pace battery.
The selection of Hardik Pandya will continue to polarise opinions. Having bowled precious little in the 1st Test and his batting as a specialist overseas leaving much to be desired, the question of picking an underperforming allrounder is one that the think-tank will have to deliberate upon.
India's selection quandary doesn't end there. Cheteshwar Pujara's absence from a playing XI was always going to raise eyebrows. And despite having a quiet county stint for Yorkshire, the solidity that Pujara lends to the Indian top order is undeniable. If he's to be brought back in an emergency move, who'll give way? Shikhar Dhawan is the most likely candidate given his technique issues. But the larger problem is that all of the top 3 Indian batsmen have looked susceptible when the ball pitched outside off stump at Edgbaston.
It makes for optimistic reading that England's recent Test form at Lords reads 3 wins from their last 9 games. And can we ever forget the famous win at this ground the last time the Indian team played Test matches here in the UK!
History counts for little when a hungry Team India steps out onto the field against a slightly weakened English unit on Thursday.
Catch all the action from the 2nd of the five Tests at the Lord's Cricket Ground in London, Thursday, 9th August onwards, 3:30 PM IST, 11:00 AM local time.