Second Test preview: England v India

England

The second Test between England and India takes place at the Home of Cricket, Lord's, this week and what's a Test match in England these days without a bit of controversy? Dull, that's what.

The second Test between England and India takes place at the Home of Cricket, Lord's, this week and what's a Test match in England these days without a bit of controversy? Dull, that's what.

This time, the men in focus, and distracting from the actual cricket, are James Anderson and Ravi Jadeja, after the former allegedly shoved the latter during the first Test. One expects relations to be a bit tense, as a result.

As for matters on the field, England will be hopeful of a win this time, out, after their previous Test here ended in a thrilling, final over draw against Sri Lanka last month. They are on a run of nine Tests without a win.

The first Test was a tame draw, but England were looking at a possible at one point on day five, until Stuart Binny's tail end resistance, one of many in the match, sucked the life out of the day until Alastair Cook had a bowl and took a comedy wicket.

Fans will hope that Cook is not the answer to their slow bowling woes at Lord's, with Simon Kerrigan added to the squad. The Lancashire spinner's inclusion has prompted mixed reviews, with some feeling it's too soon after his disastrous debut. Others feel he could be the answer to the Swann-shaped hole.

But who would he replace? Moeen Ali, who took wickets with his 'doosras' and part-time spin? That would be overly harsh, considering Moeen is actually a batting all-rounder and in decent form, even though he's batting out of position.

Batting-wise, England's main issue is Cook's lack of form. His last two Tests at Lord's saw him top score with 28, and he doesn't have a ton in nearly 30 innings. His opening partner, Sam Robson, has taken to Test cricket like a champ though.

The other relative rookie is Gary Ballance, who scored a ton last time he played at Lord's, as well as 71 in the first Test in this series. He's slotted into number three as well as anyone could have hoped, filling the Trott-shaped hole.

India, meanwhile, have to ponder the inclusion of Ravi Ashwin at the expense of fourth seamer Stuart Binny. Again, such a swap would be harsh, given Binny was instrumental in saving the first Test with his 78 on day five.

In the pace department, no changes are expected aside from the hope that Ishant Sharma will find a way to keep his front foot behind the line. In the first Test he bowled nine no-balls and went at nearly four to the over. Maybe they will drop him, come to think of it… But probably not, as he's the only India bowler to have played a Test at Lord's.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, batsman Joe Root will be the man to watch, as his last Test at Lord's saw him score a double ton, and he comes into the game on the back of an unbeaten century at Trent Bridge. The young guns are certainly firing.

The Indians certainly have a strong batting line up, but Murali Vijay at the top of the order will be the focus in the wake of his century and half ton in Nottingham, finding form just at the right time to offset the rest of the top order's struggles.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2014: First Test: Match drawn in Nottingham<br>2012: Fourth Test: Match drawn in Nagpur<br>2012: Third Test: England won by seven wickets in Kolkata<br>2012: Second Test: England won by 10 wickets in Mumbai<br>2012: First Test: India won by nine wickets in Ahmedabad

<b>Squads</b><br>England: Sam Robson, Alastair Cook, Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Matt Prior, Ben Stokes, Liam Plunkett, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Simon Kerrigan, Chris Woakes

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Stuart Binny, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Gautam Gambhir, Ravi Ashwin, Ishwar Pandey, Pankaj Singh, Wriddhiman Saha

<b>Dates:</b> 17-21 July<br><b>Morning session:</b> 11:00-13:00 (10:00-12:00 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 13:40-15:40 (14:40-16:40 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 16:00-18:00 (15:00-17:00 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Kumar Dharmasena Bruce Oxenford<br><b>Third umpire:</b> To be confirmed<br><b>Match referee:</b> David Boon

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