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It’s time to knuckle up 

London, August 8

India captain Virat Kohli has urged his top-order batsmen to show composure ahead of the second Test against England at Lord’s. The visitors suffered a 31-run defeat in a thrilling opening Test at Edgbaston despite Kohli’s first Test century in England. The skipper top scored in both Indian innings with 149 and 51 but the rest of the batting line-up struggled to make an impact while chasing a total of 194.“I don’t think anything (top-order failure) should be judged so soon,” Kohli said on the eve of the second Test. “But when it comes to the wickets falling quickly, it’s more of a mental aspect than technical — like how you think about a situation after wicket falls.“I think that matters a lot, you should have a clear plan of what you want to do in the next 30 deliveries and that plan, more often than not, is not aggression. We need a little bit more composure there and that, as a batting unit, we have discussed.” Despite the issues with the batting order, Kohli remains upbeat about his team’s chances of levelling the series. “It’s not like we’re getting rolled over — every Test match that we’re playing is competitive,” he added. “I feel as a team we’re just about there.” 

Two spinners?

The top-ranked India could field two spinners at Lord’s, given the recent hot and dry English summer, and Ravichandran Ashwin’s seven wickets in the opening Test. Wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who enjoyed an impressive run in the One-day series last month, and experienced all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja are in contention for a spot in the final line-up.“When the wicket wears off, the spinners can come into play as well,” Kohli said. “It’s a tempting thought to field two spinners but we will have to take a call on that depending on the team balance. It’s definitely in contention.” 

Kohli’s dilemma

Pujara conundrum

Kohli played Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara at Edgbaston. Former cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath want Pujara back in the playing XI for his patience, and the ability to knuckle down and wear down the bowlers. In the first Test, Dhawan managed only 26 and 13, while Rahul scored 4 and 13. Yet, Pujara’s return is not certain.

Toss-up for spinner’s slot

India are likely to go in with two spinners, and the toss-up for the second spot between Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja is going to be interesting. The last time Jadeja played at Lord’s (in 2014), he took 3/99 in two innings but scored 68 in the second innings, helping India put on a match-winning total. However, it’s going to be difficult to overlook Yadav. He’s enjoying bowling in England — on Tuesday, he beat Virat Kohli in the nets with his drift and turn, drawing thumbs-up from the pleased skipper. 

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