England and India will go into the third Test square after Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s men fell short of being able to pull off successive miracles in the second Test.
Bowled out for 292 at the start of the week, their 106-run defeat saw them unable to repeat the magic on display in Hyderabad which saw them swipe an important opening victory.
But as the dust settles on the teams travails in Visakhapatnam, and preparations begin for the third test in Rajkot, ex-England captain NASSER HUSSAIN answers your burning questions.
Q. Let’s face it, England have never had a better chance to go 2-0 up in India. This only goes one way now, doesn’t it? – Mike Hartley, Blackpool
Not necessarily. England played a lot of good cricket in the second Test and so far this hasn’t reminded me of the last tour of India, when they won the first game and then lost the series 3-1. But I do think India will get stronger, absolutely.
England were unable to pull off a second successive miracle on Indian soil in the second Test
The India side will only get stronger with the possible return of the talismanic Virat Kohli
This was an opportunity for England but don’t forget they were missing players, too, like Jack Leach and Harry Brook. And Joe Root couldn’t bowl in the second innings. Yes, it will get tougher for England — with KL Rahul coming back and possibly Virat Kohli — but that was always going to be the case.
Q. So, was Ben Stokes right to be pleased with the performance in Vizag? – Dannika Corby, Sydney
The one thing about Ben is that he’s always honest. Like when he basically said England were rubbish during the World Cup. So he’s right to be pleased with a lot of what went on here. Did they bowl out India twice for under-par scores? Yes. Did they bat well and nearly get 300 in the last innings in India? Yes, that’s a pretty good effort.
The problem came in England’s first innings and that was due to one exceptional spell from Jasprit Bumrah, as good as I’ve seen in the Subcontinent from a quick bowler. A lot of England batters got in and got out. That’s what they have to put right.
Ben Stokes will be proud of the effort his side have put into the first two Tests of their series
Jasprit Bumrah took pleasure in menacing the England batsmen during an exceptional spell
Q. Joe Root and Ollie Pope are too good to play frenetic innings. They don’t need to Bazball, do they? – Zoe Ennals, Melbourne
Good question. Pope has always looked frenetic. When you watched him in the first innings of this game you would never have known he made 196 in the last one. It is just him.
But the pair of them have great stats under Bazball. Root averages 53 during this regime. I do think Joe in particular doesn’t need to be overly-aggressive. He needs to get the balance right.
Q. We have had two cracking Tests in front of big crowds. Do we need to see the wider picture and not get upset if England lose? – Jamie Milne, Edinburgh
Results are important and you do have to get upset if you lose. Think of all the travelling England fans in India and those at home getting up at 4am to watch or listen. But they also want good, entertaining cricket and that’s what they’ve been getting. There’s been eight brilliant days of Test cricket and if you throw in West Indies’ win over Australia in Brisbane, it’s been a good start to the year.
Joe Root is capable of getting the balance right and doesn’t need out-and-out aggression
Q. Stokes raised eyebrows by saying ‘technology got that one wrong’ after Zak Crawley was given lbw in the second Test. Can we not trust DRS any more? – Matt Davies, Barrow
I think that DRS is brilliant. Look at VAR and how football doesn’t get it right. That’s not been the case in cricket. Occasionally technology is not 100 per cent accurate. That’s why we have umpire’s call.
This decision did look slightly odd and most of us would have thought it was clipping leg stump. But the game is about angles — and the left-armer in Kuldeep Yadav bowling over the wicket does create an angle — so I don’t think we should doubt the technology.
Q. England are off to Abu Dhabi for eight days now for some R and R. Couldn’t they stay in India? – Dan Sayers, Leamington Spa
They could — but they’ve got a lot of cricket coming up this year so any time they can be with their families and relax in an environment they feel comfortable in is fine by me. It can be a cauldron in India as there’s such a love of cricket.
The moment these lads leave their hotel room they are mobbed. They have been successful in part because they can relax and get away from it.
Brendon McCullum will take his players to the Gulf state for some family time and needed R&R
Q. Virat Kohli is going to come back to be the hero. He’d love that, wouldn’t he? – Grant Scandling, Sevenoaks
He would! The one thing about India is that in three of their four innings they have been a bit sloppy. I know Rahul Dravid and he would have been ticking inside at some of the dismissals so far. India will think, ‘We keep on giving England a sniff here, let’s be more ruthless’. And the one thing Kohli is, is absolutely ruthless.
I hope he does come back because the only thing this series has been missing is the battle between Kohli and Jimmy Anderson. I’m looking forward to that.
Q. If England go with two spinners and two seamers in Rajkot, or three and one, who are you picking? – Matt Deighton, Adelaide
That’s their problem. If it were Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, England would go two and two. But these three spinners are so young and inexperienced they will have good days and bad days. So Stokes almost needs to play all three. I need to have a think about this and have a look at the pitch in Rajkot before I answer.
Q. If Harry Brook comes back, is he a straight swap for Jonny Bairstow? – Ben Hughes, Huddersfield
No. Not yet. Bairstow’s an excellent player and just needs to convert one of his starts. It wasn’t just him. All of the England batters got in and got out again in Vizag. Jonny will know if Brook does go to India he will need to be clinical and get a big score. But this England side have shown faith in players and I expect them to show faith in Bairstow.
Harry Brook’s return does not automatically mean the end of Jonny Bairstow’s stint in India
Q. What’s going to happen next? – Z Khan, Delhi
We’re going to have some fun! India are favourites, I said that before a ball was bowled, but the next three games will be enjoyable because of the way this England side play. And because India are going to get better.
Now I’m not involved I don’t worry about results. I worry about the bigger picture and future of Test cricket so I’m glad it’s been so fun so far.