Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli with teammates during a training session at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.
File photo: Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli with teammates during a training session at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. Image Credit: PTI

After the euphoria created once they stunned hosts Australia in their own backyard, India came in as favourites for the first Test against England. India were favorites because they saw the return of Captain Kohli under whom they had lost just one Test at home in the last 34 Tests. Kohli was also the highest scorer in last two series played between England and India. Secondly, India had Bumrah and Ashwin who had missed the last Test match in Australia and also had Ishant Sharma who had missed the whole series.

Team India was high in confidence and it seemed the hosts would roll over England at Chepauk but after England won the toss and batted first, it was complete dominance by England on display for almost 13 sessions. The visitors outplayed India in all the departments on the back of a fantastic double hundred by their captain Joe Root who is going through a purple patch.

English bowlers, especially Anderson - who incidentally proved once again that he is not a finished product yet - and their spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach, were too good for the star-studded Indian batting lineup and won the first test in a clinical manner.

Crucial Test

With the second Test beginning on Saturday and the World Test Championship on the line, Virat Kohli and his team cannot have another blip and will have their task cut out. We all have to see which spinner Virat Kohli would pick for the second Test match after Shabaz Nadeem had a forgettable match and so did Washington Sundar who was not effective with the ball to give the right support to Ashwin, the only threat to English batsman.

Pundits have been asking for Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav to be brought in to the side but Virat was adamant in the post-match press conference that leaving Kuldeep out in the first Test was not a mistake. However, India will definitely have to give the wrist spinner who has been on the bench since the Australia series a chance to prove that he is a match winner, especially on Indian pitches.

Knowing how much reverse swing all the bowlers got in the first match, India might even think of going with Shardul Thakur who can even contribute with the bat, at the expense of Washington Sundar. Rohit Sharma and Rahane are both under the pump from the fans for not doing much with the bat going in to this game.

As toss plays a vital role on Indian conditions, the curator would definitely not dish out the same pitch which was too flat on the first day. He would instead opt for one that helps both the pacers and spinners to nullify the impact of toss and make a sporty wicket for both the teams.

Test of character

It's going to be a test of character for India. With the fans finally being allowed to enter the stadium, the players would like to get the record straight and put in a performance which can bring India back in the series.

Will Kohli and his men bounce back? Your guess will be as good as mine.

[Cricket enthusiast and businessman Anis Sajan is the Managing Director of Danube.]