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Virat Kohli, Joe Root
World Test Championship

India, England set to go again as race for WTC final place intensifies

Ind v Eng, 2nd Test, preview

The race for a place in the ICC World Test Championship final is set to get ever more intense as India and England clash again in the second of their four-match series in Chennai starting 13 February.

Overview

India v England, 2nd Test
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
13-17 February; 9.30am local time, 4am GMT

England took a step towards that end when they beat India in the first Test, at the same venue, by 227 runs in a dominant performance against the hosts. It was a result that took them to the top of the World Test Championship standings, while India dropped to fourth spot.

However, the task that awaits both teams in the remainder of the series is the same. Both teams will need to win two of the remaining three matches to progress. While England can still afford a loss – even a 3-1 series victory will take them to the final – India cannot afford to lose another match.

The intensity will only increase as the series progress. The question for England is whether they can keep up their performance levels of the first Test with a tweaked squad. Their XI in the second Test is expected to have as many as four changes in it, with Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Jimmy Anderson and Dom Bess all expected to miss out due to various reasons.

While Archer sustained an elbow injury that ruled out him out the second Test, Anderson and Bess were missing from the XII announced by captain Joe Root on the eve of the match. Moeen Ali is set to take the place of Bess – he took a fine first-innings 4/76 in opener – while Anderson will be replaced by another veteran Stuart Broad. Ben Foakes is set to take the place left vacant behind the stumps by Buttler, who flew back home after the first Test.

It’s still a supremely strong line-up, and India will have their task cut out against a side that has won six matches on the trot. The hosts will hope to display all-round improvement in the second Test – a must-not-lose match if there ever was one – and Virat Kohli, their captain, laid the onus on that at the feet of the batsmen after the last Test.

India will hope their middle order fires. With Axar Patel declared fit ahead of the second Test, they may yet look to bring in the all-rounder to shore up the batting, although it remains to be seen what combination he will play in, and whether Kuldeep Yadav, the left-arm wrist-spinner, will be able to add to his Test tally – he last played a Test over two years ago.

It should be a thriller. 

Remember the last time

It was a Test in which England never seemed out of control. Root led from the front, scoring a double century in his 100th Test to lay the platform for the visitors. India’s response was mild in comparison – despite a thrilling counter-attacking 91 from Rishabh Pant – as they posted 337.

England decided not to enforce a follow-on, and despite being bowled out for 178 – R Ashwin took 6/61 – India were still set a target of 420 to win. India had a few hopes of batting out the final day, but early wickets led to a slide and they were bowled out for 192, and a loss by 227 runs.

What they said

Ajinkya Rahane, India vice-captain: "The pitch looks completely different, I am sure it will turn from day one. We will have to wait and see how it behaves in the first session and take it from there.”

Joe Root, England captain: “For us to win out here, it's going to have to be a real squad effort. Guys are going to have to come in and rotate.”

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