What next for England after chastening defeat in Chennai?

Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent

After a hugely impressive victory in the first Test against India, England came crashing down to earth with a 317-run mauling in the follow-up.

Here the PA news agency looks at some of the key questions heading into the second half of an intriguing series.

What now for England’s rotation policy?

Root (c), Anderson, Archer, Bairstow, Bess, Broad, Burns, Crawley, Foakes, Lawrence, Leach, Pope, Sibley, Stokes, Stone, Woakes, Wood

England revealed that Moeen Ali was flying home for a break ahead of the Twenty20 series and would not play any further role, having just ended his 18-month hiatus from Test cricket.

Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood return from a similar break of their own and Zak Crawley also has a chance after missing the last two games with a wrist injury.

In terms of the playing XI, Jofra Archer, James Anderson and Dom Bess are also hoping to earn recalls, meaning another glut of changes is likely.

Will the pitch in Ahmedabad offer more elaborate turn?

While some of the hysterical criticism of the Chennai pitch was made to look foolish by India’s batting line-up, who kept England in the field for more than 181 overs on an apparently unplayable surface, there is no doubt that it skewed drastically towards the home side’s skills.

By turning elaborately from the first morning it placed a high value on playing and delivering spin, with predictable results.

Two factors mean things could be less predictable next time around: the new 100,000-capacity Sardar Patel Stadium has never hosted Test cricket before and the game is set to be a day/night match played with a pink ball.

What effect will the day/night conditions have?

Floodlit Test matches are still a relatively new phenomenon, with England playing three to date and India one behind them.

There has been just one in the country before, an innings victory over Bangladesh in November 2019. Intriguingly, the hosts took 19 wickets in that match with seam, plus one retired hurt.

While it would be unthinkable that a spin attack led by Ravichandran Ashwin would return a blank this time, it does appear to suggest that the pink ball and overhead lighting could still change the balance of the game.

What do England need to do differently?

England's on-field leaders will need to formulate some new plans.
England’s on-field leaders will need to formulate some new plans (Tim Goode/PA)

First of all, winning the toss would be a good start. So far both games in the series have been set up by a big first-innings and there is no reason to believe the coin flip will not be important again.

Beyond that, England need their senior batsmen – Joe Root and Ben Stokes – to fire.

Root has been utterly prolific since the turn of the year but his first lean game coincided with a thumping defeat. His fundamentals remain perfectly attuned to getting the job done in India but he might have to be even more careful given the lopsided value of his wicket.

Stokes, meanwhile, will know he has an Ashwin-shaped problem and needs to work on new plans. With the ball, the demand is simple: cut down on the freebies. England’s spinners must be able to attack or defend in India, but there have been too many full tosses and drag downs to date.

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