Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam is buzzing with excitement as it prepares to host its first Test match in five years. The local crowd, eager and enthusiastic, took to the streets to extend a warm welcome to the Indian team ahead of their second Test against England, scheduled to commence on February 2.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared a vibrant video capturing the reception in Vizag. Hundreds of fans thronged the airports, creating a lively atmosphere, while the hotel staff greeted the team with a traditional song and presented them with a pendant.
Presenting Sounds 🎧 of #TeamIndia‘s travel day!
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 30, 2024
Despite the spirited welcome, the Indian team faces challenges going into the second Test after a defeat in Hyderabad. Captain Rohit Sharma’s side is aiming to bounce back and level the series. However, setbacks include the absence of KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, who have been ruled out of the second Test. Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, and Saurabh Kumar have been named as replacements in the squad.
Concerns also surround the form of Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer in red-ball cricket. Having replaced Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, respectively, their performances in the second Test will be closely watched, especially with the impending return of Virat Kohli and KL Rahul in the subsequent matches.
England, on the other hand, enters the second Test with boosted confidence following their 28-run victory in Hyderabad. Ollie Pope’s spectacular 196 runs in the second innings and Tom Hartley’s impressive seven-wicket haul signal their readiness for the challenge. Ahead of the second Test, head coach Brendon McCullum expressed the team’s willingness to play four spinners in Vizag.
Shoaib Bashir, who missed the first Test due to Visa issues, has joined the squad and could feature in the playing XI if England opts for an all-spin attack. Joe Root showcased his all-round skills with five wickets in the first match, while Jack Leach and Rehan Ahmed chipped in with two wickets each.