Indian captain Virat Kohli has urged his top order batting unit to show composure ahead of the second test against England at Lord’s, adding they may need to curb aggression and buy some more time at the crease.
The visitors suffered a 31-run defeat in a thrilling opening test at Edgbaston, despite Kohli’s first test century in England.
The skipper top scored in both Indian innings with 149 and 51 but the rest of the batting lineup struggled to make an impact while chasing a total of 194.
“I don’t think anything (top order failure) should be judged so soon,” Kohli told a news conference on Wednesday.
“But when it comes to the wickets falling quickly, it’s more of a mental aspect than technical -- like how you think about a situation after wicket falls.
“I think that matters a lot, you should have a clear plan of what you want to do in the next 30 deliveries and that plan more often than not, is not aggression. We need a little bit more composure there and that, as a batting unit, we have discussed.”
Despite the issues with the batting order, Kohli remains upbeat about his team’s chances of levelling the series ahead of the second test.
“It’s not like we’re getting rolled over - every test match that we’re playing is competitive,” he added. “I feel as a team we’re just about there.”
Top-ranked India could field two spinners at Lord’s, given the recent hot and dry English summer, and Ravichandran Ashwin’s seven wickets in the opening test.
Wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who enjoyed an impressive run in the one-day series last month, and experienced all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja are in contention for a spot in the final lineup.
“When the wicket wears off, the spinners can come into play as well,” Kohli said.
“It’s a tempting thought to field two spinners but we will have to take a call on that depending on the team balance. It’s definitely in contention.”
Clamour grows for Pujara’s inclusion
Cheteshwar Pujara’s ability to wear down bowlers with his obdurate defence should earn him a place in India’s playing XI for the second test against England, according to several former players.
Skipper Virat Kohli’s sublime display in the series opener failed to gloss over India’s top order frailties with the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul making a combined 82 in their 31-run loss in the Edgbaston test.
Pujara may not have set alight county cricket with his Yorkshire stint but many believe the time he spent in the country gives him a distinct advantage over his team mates.
“When batsmen are struggling with the moving ball, it might be a good idea to induct Cheteshwar Pujara into the side,” former test player Mohinder Amarnath wrote in a column that appeared in Wednesday’s Times of India newspaper.
“I know he is not in great form but he has the ability to occupy the crease and just needs time in the middle to rediscover his touch,” added the 69-test veteran whose own gutsy batting remains an inspiration for the likes of Pujara.
His former team mate Sunil Gavaskar also sees sense in bringing back Pujara for the Lord’s test beginning on Thursday.
“I will play one more batsman at Lord’s in the form of Pujara,” Gavaskar told India Today television channel.
“He has the technique and patience required for a test match. Whose place he’ll take will depend on the pitch. If the wicket isn’t that green then I will play him in place of (pacer) Umesh Yadav and stay with (all-rounder) Hardik Pandya.”
India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun appeared sceptic of the move to play an extra batsman in the second test despite the poor batting display in the series opener.
“Playing an extra batsman here, I would consider that as a very conservative move,” Arun told reporters at Lord’s.
“Everything depends on the conditions. And if the conditions are not as friendly as it was during the first test it would make more sense to play five bowlers.”