The main talking points ahead of England’s second Test against India

Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent
·3-min read

England boast a 1-0 series lead over India after completing a memorable victory in the first Test and return to the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai looking for a repeat performance.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key issues.

Can Root keep the streak going?

Joe Root has produced a quite remarkable sequence of batting since the turn of the year, with two double hundreds and a big century making him a dominant figure in each of England’s three wins. At the moment his game looks impregnable, but two questions look large: 1) can he possibly keep up such a prolific output and 2) can England find a way to match-winning scores if he doesn’t?

Broad shoulders the responsibility

No side has ever taken the gamble of resting a seam bowler with 611 Test wickets under his belt before, mostly because James Anderson is well into unprecedented territory. But England are in the unique position of having a player with 517 to summon from drinks duty. Stuart Broad has missed two matches in a row now as a result of England’s rotation policy and will be desperate to reclaim centre stage after a prolific 2020 campaign. His role is even more important with the injured Jofra Archer also missing, but the 34-year-old has previous for flourishing when he is needed most.

Moeen’s big moment

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Moeen Ali’s last Test appearance – an underwhelming outing in the first match of the 2019 Ashes. Since then he has stepped away from the red-ball game, rediscovered his hunger for it during lockdown and suffered a bout of Covid-19 in Sri Lanka. But his recall here for Dom Bess represents a major opportunity to reclaim his role as England’s first-choice spinner. With 60 caps and 181 wickets to his name, and a helpful surface expected, he has the platform to relaunch himself as a Test cricketer.

Big chance for Foakes

Harshly dropped just five games into his Test career two years ago – having won player-of-the-series in his first assignment – Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes is back. He now replaces the rested Jos Buttler and has the chance to play his part in one of the biggest series in cricket. Has more limitations than Buttler with the bat but on what is likely to be a spinning pitch he has an opportunity to show off his peerless work up to the stumps. If he can nick a stumping or a half chance off the edge, he could prove an invaluable addition.

A new threat

Axar Patel looks set for a debut in Chennai.
Axar Patel looks set for a debut in Chennai (Nick Potts/PA)

After struggling to keep out Sri Lankan left-armer Lasith Embuldeniya during their double header in Galle, England enjoyed themselves much more against Shahbaz Nadeem in the first Test. He has been summarily dropped after the return to fitness of Axar Patel and he is expected to make his debut this week. He has played 49 times for India in white-ball cricket, taking 54 wickets, and has a promising first-class record. How well he performs could be an interesting sub-plot to how well India can curtail England’s batting order.