England will look to carry forward the good momentum from first Test © Getty Images
England will look to carry forward the good momentum from first Test © Getty Images

England won the first Ashes Test at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff by a huge margin of 169 runs beating Australia black and blue. Australia were in a good position but they collapsed to lose the game inside four days. England will want to continue their good run going and retain the winning momentum. One statistic, however, stands out: they have not quite been at their best after being at top at the start home series. Nikhil Popat feels England must guard against complacency as Australia will not keep quiet and will hope to strike back hard.

England were clinical in the first Ashes Test against Australia at Cardiff. They had a near-perfect Test: they won the toss, elected to bat, put up a good score with Joe Root scoring big, acquired a good lead courtesy a good bowling performance, batted brilliantly second time around with Ian Bell getting back to runs, and kept the pressure on Australia and they capitulated to hand England a big win. Read: Ashes 2015: Australia needs serious introspection after humiliating defeat to England in 1st Test at Cardiff

This time, however, England must be cautious; wins can sometimes give you a false sense of security about everything being all hunky-dory. England though will have to start from scratch in the second Test at Lord’s as Australia are not a team that will sit and take a beating every game England have had recent issues with maintaining a good momentum after doing good work in the first Test of a series. Against Sri Lanka last year, England were left just a wicket away from a win in the first Test. Sri Lanka then were magnificent in the second Test and beat England comprehensively by 100 runs and England squandered all the good work they did in the first Test.

Coming to the India series that followed, England had India in trouble at Trent Bridge before Stuart Binny bailed India out of trouble. India then hit England hard with Ishant Sharma bouncing the English batsmen out and India won the second Test by 95 runs. Thankfully, England went on to win the next three Tests as India surrendered badly and England won the series 3-1. Read: The Ashes 2015: Where was the intensity at Cardiff?

Even in the series against New Zealand, England were dominant in the first Test when they won by 124 runs. New Zealand returned the favour in the second Test at Headingley, catching England off-guard. England were beaten by 199 runs and their “second-Test weakness” was exposed again.

With Darren Lehmann at helm, Australia is more than likely to have noticed this. England did have a clinical first game but even they will know that had Brad Haddin caught Root early, England would have been in danger. Root went onto score 134 and continued his good form. Australia had started well but lost wickets in a cluster; it is not a mistake that they are likely to repeat. Read: Moeen Ali expected to be fit in time for Ashes 2015 Test vs Australia

Their bowlers got the lengths wrong in the first Test but they would have worked over it. The pace and bounce are also likely to be more at Lord’s. Mitchell Johnson will need one spell to start inflicting the same damage that he did during the series in Australia. England have a few issues to solve: their top order has not been convincing, and Australia should believe if they get through Root and Ben Stokes early, they may have more than a chance of coming back in the series with a win. Read: Shane Watson axed, Mitchell Marsh included in Australia team for 2nd Ashes Test

Australia have enough self-belief to back themselves to come back hard. England will need to be careful. Australia might be hurt, and that is when they are at their best and put up stellar performances. One can be rest assured that Alastair Cook and company will be thoroughly tested by a team hungry for success; if they can overcome the Lord’s hurdle, England’s aim of regaining the urn will be one step closer to reality.

(Nikhil Popat is a diehard cricket enthusiast and a PotterHead till the end of time. He can be followed on Twitter @CricCrazyNIKS)