England and India will take a fresh look at their spin options for the second test at Lord’s after tail-enders exposed the limitations of both pace attacks in the drawn first test at Nottingham.
England’s four-man seam battery and part-time spinner Moeen Ali failed to break the resilience of India’s lower-order batsmen in both innings at Trent Bridge, robbing the team of opportunities to force a victory on a low, flat wicket.
India’s attack, with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja as their lone slow-bowling option, fared no better with centurion Joe Root and James Anderson stitching together an all-time record 198-run last-wicket stand to keep the visitors at bay.
England’s front-line pacemen Anderson and Stuart Broad bowled more than 50 overs apiece on the Nottingham track and with the second test starting on Thursday, the visitors wasted no time adding specialist spinner Simon Kerrigan to the squad.
Part-time off-spinner Ali did take four wickets at Trent Bridge but leaked runs while failing to maintain pressure on the batsmen.
Lancashire left-arm spinner Kerrigan, 25, has made one test appearance before – against Australia in the 2013 Ashes series at The Oval – where he conceded 53 runs without taking a wicket.
However, captain Alastair Cook had encouraging words for the slow bowler after his inclusion in the squad.
“He’s been good around us and bowled beautifully in the nets,” Cook told Sky Sports after the opening test of the five-match series. “We want to have an option in case it’s hot and dry at Lord’s, and might spin more.”
ASHWIN AN OPTION
India will also be pondering a few changes for Lord’s and regular spinner Ravichandran Ashwin looks to be in a good position to force his way into the starting eleven.
In recent series, left-armer Jadeja has been preferred to Ashwin when India play overseas but his mediocre showing in the first test may open the door for the 27-year-old off-spinner.
“I don’t regret not playing Ashwin because there was no help for the spinners on this track,” captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said at Trent Bridge, justifying the decision to pick Jadeja.
As the team head to Lord’s for the next match, things are likely to change in the face of different conditions.
Helping Ashwin’s cause is the fact that he averages close to 40 with the bat in the longer format with two hundreds and three fifties and can effectively play the all-rounder role for India.
Stuart Binny will also have his fingers crossed for Lord’s despite his fighting 78 in the second innings, which ensured India played out a comfortable draw after some early jitters on the final day at Nottingham.
Binny, who bowls gentle medium pace, made just one with the bat and bowled only 10 out of India’s 144.5 overs in the first innings.
India might be tempted to get back to playing their usual combination of six batsmen with Rohit Sharma being drafted into the middle order with Dhoni feeling the conditions in Nottingham were of little use to Binny’s medium pace.
“The wicket was not suiting Stuart Binny’s kind of bowling,” Dhoni said. “Jadeja could use the rough on the wicket, so I was not really forced to give too many overs to Binny.
“As the series progresses, we will watch him as he is someone who can swing the ball well, and can give rest to the other bowlers, and he will be more effective on pitches that offer some assistance to the bowlers.”