England v India at Lord's: Second Test talking points

Ben Stokes dismisses Dinesh Karthik
Ben Stokes dismisses Dinesh Karthik

Press Association Sport look ahead to the second England v India Test at Lord's, where the hosts have struggled a little of late.

England will be out to turn around their poor recent record at Lord's in this week's second Test against India.

Trevor Bayliss' side go into the match looking to build on a thrilling opening win at Edgbaston and build a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, and Sky Bet make them even-money favourites.

India, though, will be hoping to inflict England's fifth defeat in their last 10 Tests at HQ and restore parity. They're 2/1 with Sky Bet and fancied by our cricket expert Richard Mann, who previews the Test match here.

Home discomfort

In the last five years, England have lost more Tests than they have won at their most traditional home ground - four to three, plus draws with Sri Lanka in 2014 and 2016.

India played their part in that record with a win in 2014, when Ishant Sharma blew away the lower order to take seven for 74 and set the seal on a 95-run defeat.

There have been two defeats to Pakistan, including a nine-wicket rout earlier this summer when only Jos Buttler and Dom Bess' half-centuries staved off an innings loss, and a 405-run thumping by Australia in 2015.

The missing man

A common thread links England's three wins in that time - and once again it is less than encouraging news.

Ben Stokes, absent from this week's squad due to a court case on a charge of affray, was named man of the match in two of the three games.

Against the West Indies in 2015 the all-rounder hit 92 and 101 before taking three for 38 in the tourists' second innings, while against the West Indies last year he took six for 22 before top-scoring with 60 in England's first innings.

Moeen Ali's off-spin was the decisive factor against South Africa last summer, with match figures of 10 for 112, but even then Stokes made 56 in the first innings.

Short-term trend

England's all-time record at Lord's is positive, with 53 wins and only 32 defeats from 134 games - and the recent slump looks even stranger when set against the immediate precedent.

In the previous five years, from 2009 to 2013 inclusive, England won eight of their 10 Lord's Tests including some emphatic scorelines.

Pakistan were beaten by an innings in the controversial 2010 Test marred by spot-fixing, there was a 347-run success against Australia in 2013 while the Windies and Bangladesh succumbed by 10 and eight wickets respectively.

There was a draw with Sri Lanka in 2011 while the only defeat in the five-year period was by 51 runs to South Africa in 2012.

The Stokes effect

It would be fanciful to think England's cricketers will be distracted by events at Bristol Crown Court, huddling anxiously around a screen to hear the latest dispatches from Ben Stokes' affray trial. His absence from the side does have the ability to destabilise the team, though. As he proved on the final morning in Birmingham, the Durham man is a cricketer desperate to be involved in the pivotal moments and the Ashes proved how crucial his all-round skill-set can be. There is no like-for-like replacement available so everyone will have to take their share of the water.

Pope on the fast track

The swift promotion of Surrey's latest prodigy, Ollie Pope, to the international arena represents Ed Smith's most radical act in the selection hot seat. Those who have seen him in full flow - a relatively slender number given he has played a grand total of 15 first-class matches - purr at his fluency at the crease but this is a serious ask. He is pegged to bat number four, despite regularly coming in two places lower for his county, and the intensity of the occasion is sure to be step up. But in shelving the experienced Dawid Malan for a 20-year-old rookie, England are making a conscious effort to future-proof their middle-order.

Spin it to win it

It came as something of a surprise to see both sides field solitary spinners in the series opener, particularly after England's long, hot summer. With Ravichandran Ashwin enjoying great success last time out India will surely be minded to fall back on an extra tweaker at Lord's and have Ravindra Jadeja and KuldeepYadav both waiting in the wings. England face a trickier balancing act. They have the option of slotting Moeen Ali in as Stokes' stand-in, and he would provide some dependable off-spin overs, but Chris Woakes has also been drafted into the squad and he comes closer than anyone to maintaining the match-winning formula.

Root's unlucky 13

England captain Joe Root's consistent ability to churn out half-centuries is as admirable as his inclination to falter before three figures is frustrating. Nobody is more aware of his modest conversion rate than the skipper, who has frequently spoken of his desire to become more ruthless when he is set. He has waited almost a year, and 22 innings, to go from 13 to 14 Test tons and a ground where he already has three entries on the honours board could be the perfect place to put that right.

Can Pujara be Kohli's foil?

Kohli must wonder what more he can do after reeling off 200 runs in a losing cause. The answer is, not a lot, but the same is not true for his top-order colleagues. India badly need somebody to knuckle down and chip in with a major contribution and the most likely candidate could be the man who sat out at Edgbaston. Cheteshwar Pujara made a good decision in signing for Yorkshire to acclimatise to English conditions but his lack of red-ball form in that stint ultimately counted against him. Yet he still averages over 50 in Test cricket - considerably more than Murali Vijay or Shikhar Dhawan - and looks ripe for a recall.

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