India v England: Plenty to ponder for struggling India ahead of Trent Bridge Test
Even though he was seen practicing in the nets, doubts remain over Virat Kohli's availability (Getty Images)

In a five-Test series, once a side is 0-2 down after the first two games, there isn’t really much scope left to turn things around. Unfortunately, India already find themselves at the wrong end of the stick. Edgbaston was somewhat competitive, and it gave Virat Kohli’s side hope for the next Test. With history backing them, Lord’s was the ideal venue to level the series but their batsmen’s meek surrender in testing conditions has thrown their campaign in disarray.

So, what lies next as both teams as they head to Trent Bridge for the third Test? For England, it’s a chance to seal the series and extract revenge for their 0-4 loss in India two seasons back. India? Well, there isn’t anything left to be said that already hasn’t. Batting woes, muddled selection, struggle against place quality pace and a big question mark surrounding their captain makes it even more difficult for the No. 1 Test team to produce something out of the ordinary.

As India look to regroup in the series – and it is easier said than done – they will be required to find solutions to certain pending questions.

What is Virat Kohli’s status?

The only Indian batsman to have looked comfortable against England’s pace batter is their captain Kohli. With 250 runs in four innings, Kohli will once again be key to India’s chances. But all that will only account for provided he is fit. During the Lord’s Test, Kohli had to leave the field on the third day after tea. Even when he walked out to bat at No.5 during India’s second innings, he looked in immense pain during his 29-ball 17. Even though Kohli has claimed he’ll get fit on time ahead of the third Test at Trent Bridge that starts Saturday, it’s not a sure-shot certainty. The prospect of the team being without their captain serves as a huge blow to India, whose batting has been abysmal barring Kohli.

Will India be willing to try out Rishabh Pant?

That India keep going back to Dinesh Karthik as their wicketkeeper is bemusing. In four innings, Karthik has looked the worst of the Indian batsmen, scoring 0, 20, 1 and 0 and has been found wanting against the moving ball. At 33, Karthik is not someone a team can invest in for future. With Wriddhiman Saha recuperating from a shoulder injury, and the rest of the wicketkeeping stock looking bleak, here is India’s chance to try something new and give young Rishabh Pant a go.

Having earned plaudits for his exploits in the shorter formats, India A coach Rahul Dravid believes the 20-year-old has the temperament to bat differently in the longer formats too. With an impressive first-class average of 54.50 including four centuries and eight fifties, Pant promises to be a handy inclusion. Message for India: Get Pant in.

Should Shikhar Dhawan return?

The call to drop Shikhar Dhawan, as has always been the case, caught fire following India’s 31-run loss at Edgbaston. One Test later, there is a strong chance of the left-hander returning to the Playing XI. Who he replaces though, is touch and go. The first name that comes to mind is Murali Vijay, who bagged a pair at Lord’s. KL Rahul hasn’t impressed either, with scores of 4, 13, 8 and 10. But based on confidence alone, Vijay seems likely to be left out. His dismissals – trying to whip an outswinger to leg side – proves there is more to his problems than just the technical aspect.

With Bumrah fit, will India go back to a three-way pace attack?

The latest coming in from Nottingham is that Jasprit Bumrah, who underwent surgery on his left thumb, has had his cast taken off and was seen bowling in the nets at Lord’s. Bumrah made his Test debut in South Africa earlier this year, where he took 14 wickets in the three matches. Umesh Yadav was flat at Edgbaston, and the Kuldeep Yadav experiment didn’t bring any desirable outcomes either. The mere fact that India’s pacers have looked threatening in the series makes Bumrah a starter. The last time Bumrah played a Test, he picked up 5/54 and 2/57.

How will India tackle Anderson and Broad?

Forget Sam Curran, Ben Stokes or Chris Woakes. Let’s not even get to them yet. India’s primary goal would be to see off the best fast bowling combination in the world, that of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Broad broke the back of India’s middle order in the second innings at Lord’s, removing Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli. Anderson, meanwhile, cemented his place at the top of the ICC World Rankings with a match haul of 9 for 43 in the same match and attained a career-high points total of 903.

If that’s not intimidating enough, Trent Bridge is where Anderson brings out his best. At this venue, he has 60 wickets at a cost of 18.95 apiece from nine Test matches, with seven five-wicket hauls. And with Indian batsmen struggling to find form, Anderson might well be on his way to breaking Glenn McGrath’s tally of most wickets by a fast bowler in Tests.