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“India are faced with rare uncertainty over the shape and balance of their team” – Michael Atherton
By SMCS - Feb 2, 2024 11:00 am
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Former captain Michael Atherton said that England have a great chance to take another lead on their 1-0 series lead against a weak Indian team. However, England registered one of their most famous overseas wins in the series opener in Hyderabad. And, they will try to do it once again.

Team India
Team India

“England have moved from heavy second favourites to a situation where it would be a disappointment now if they did not win the series. Such an outcome, so unexpected and so unbelievable given where both teams were on first innings, must have a huge psychological impact, especially given the quick turnaround and the injuries to two of India’s key players, Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul. England have an excellent chance of building on their lead,” Atherton wrote in his column for The Times.

However, Team India are faced with multiple setbacks ahead of the second Test, as both KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja have been ruled out due to injuries. Meanwhile, England won’t get the service of Jack Leach as he has been ruled out of the second Test due to a knee injury. And, they have handed a debut cap to off-spinner Shoaib Bashir, while Mark Wood has made way for James Anderson as well.

READ MORE: Virat Kohli shares the importance of maintaining diet

“India are not only 1-0 down, but are faced with rare uncertainty over the shape and balance of their team. Suddenly, it looks full of potential weaknesses. He [Jadeja] has a fine record as an all-rounder – the differential in batting and bowling averages places him in the highest rank – and that balances the team beautifully. After England went 1-0 up last time in Chennai in 2021, India’s response was to produce ever more spiteful surfaces, although this England team will not be so fearful should a similar response come this time,” Atherton added.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

Meanwhile, Michael Atherton also feels that Team India missed Virat Kohli’s energy on the field during the first Test in Hyderabad, especially when England went ahead in the second innings, courtesy of a stunning century by Ollie Pope. On the other hand, Virat Kohli withdrew from the squad for the first two Tests due to personal reasons as well.

“Rohit Sharma is a captain in a very different mould from his predecessor [Kohli] — at once more laid-back, albeit not quite so passive as MS Dhoni,” Atherton wrote in his column for The Times ahead of the second Test.”As England began to get ahead in Hyderabad, Kohli’s electric presence in the field, as much as anything, was missed. It would not have been hard to imagine the way he would have tried to whip up the crowd and the way his energy would have been transmitted to others. Washington Sundar, the off-spinning all-rounder who was called into the squad this week, weakens the bowling; Saurabh Kumar, the left-arm all-rounder, weakens the batting, as would Kuldeep Yadav’s wrist spin. All the problems lie with India,” Michael Atherton concluded.