Stuart Broad out and James Anderson likely to follow as injuries hit troubled England

Hosts had enough questions to answer ahead of the second Test already before the fitness issues of two of their most successful bowlers

It is difficult to know which side would have been more disappointed at having to leave the first Test with a draw, after rain washed out the last day.

Were it not for the excellence of Joe Root, England would have been out of it entirely, but they harboured justified hopes of bowling India out to force a win.

Since arriving at Lord’s for the second match, though, those optimistic vibes have taken a hit.

Injury woes

Stuart Broad has been ruled out of the entire Test series by a calf injury. James Anderson is reportedly likely to be out due to a quad injury.

All of which means England will be without the small matter of over 1,100 Test wickets’ worth of pedigree for the marquee Test of the summer.

The issue is exacerbated by the fact they will have to make do without Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Olly Stone and Ben Stokes, too.

It has already happened once this summer that England have changed all XI players from one match of a series to the next.

That will not quite happen this time round. Although …

Even more batting woes

There are all sorts of problems for the batting line up of one of these teams. Their No 3 has not scored a Test century in two-and-a-half years, and the next man in has not got one in the best part of two years, either.

But enough about Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.

England are the ones with the properly dire issues. It says much about the home team’s problems that, even with the injury-enforced changes to their bowling, their batting is where the real problems lie.

Of their top six, only Joe Root is fully convincing. Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler run hot and cold, but at least they are experienced. Dan Lawrence is struggling to establish himself in the middle order.

And the top order? Well that has been a horror show of late.

Return of Hameed?

Of England’s misfiring top three, the one who might be most at risk spent the most time in the middle in the first Test.

Dominic Sibley made 46 across the two innings at Trent Bridge, hitting just four of the 203 balls he faced in the match to the boundary.

His stodginess has meant the group of observers who suggest he has too many limitations for the top level has grown.

If Sibley is dropped, Haseeb Hameed is likely to benefit. The former great hope of English batting, who has rebuilt his career in recent seasons, and made a century in a tour match against India last month.

Coincidentally, Hameed has a strike-rate in Test cricket of 34 runs per 100 balls – exactly the same as Sibley.

Moeen is back

Another player whose stock has risen in the time he has spent out of the England team is Moeen Ali, who is also in line for a recall.

England played the first Test without a spin bowler, and if Moeen does make the XI, it will bolster the hosts’ batting stocks, too.

Crucially, he has a fine record against an opposition he also knows well via the Indian Premier League.

In home Test matches against India, he has taken 31 wickets at 22.22 in seven previous matches. He also has five Test centuries to his name - the most recent was against India.

Call for Ashwin

India’s injury problems might not have piled up quite the way England’s have – although they faced their own problems before the series started.

The tourists will, though, be without Shardul Thakur. Kohli confirmed that the swing bowler will be absent for the game Lord’s because of a hamstring injury.

Whether he would have retained his place anyway is a moot point. India’s decision to leave Ravichandran Ashwin out for the opener surprised many.

The off-spin great will likely be restored to India’s line up at Lord’s, and so he will reprise his highly productive partnership with the in-form Ravindra Jadeja.

Updated: August 11th 2021, 4:15 PM
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