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Virat Kohli (left) and Alastair Cook Getty Images

England are a side we are not going to take for granted, India captain Virat Kohli said after his side escaped from a likely defeat in the first Test at Rajkot. In fact, the statement comes from the leader of the No. 1 pack in the longest format a leader who takes no half measures and was expected to slaughter the fallible English side to 5-0 defeat. On the other hand, Virender Sehwag in the commentary box said India should play like the champions. The result, for that matter, did not unveil slightest of domination. The match ended in a draw. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs England, 2nd Test at Visakhapatnam

That said, the game clearly was England s to win. Maybe a braver person would have set them 240, but I thought it was a fair declaration, especially in the first game of the series. In a cricketing era where teams leave no stone unturned to produce results, it was disappointing to see two of the finest teams going on the defensive. Well, at least we know how to draw games now. Before that, some people obviously were skeptical about our side knowing how to draw games, said Kohli the same captain who looked to chase 364 on Day Five in his maiden Test as a captain, against Australia at Adelaide. Eventually, his team fell short by 48 runs.

The swords were out then. He was greatly criticised for not playing for a draw. But that s not what he is known for. He goes for the kill. Hence, why not go the same approach in the first Test?

India needed 310 at a run-rate of just over 5 on a Day Five track. The No. 1 side needed 310. Kohli s side needed 310 (like #TeamMisbah, it is perhaps going to be #TeamKohli soon, for the magnificent show of character these two display).

Kohli instead chose to prove his critics wrong. He went for a draw. He did not stick to his guns, did he?

There are a number of permutations and combinations that would have helped the hosts emerge victorious.

With Kohli coming in at No. 3 (which he once did against West Indies earlier this year) and pushing Cheteshwar Pujara down the order (just in case India lose quick wickets), there was a slight chance for them to gain advantage not much, but there was some. India can t deny that.

Let us evidence it with more facts.

India are studded with Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay. As a matter of fact, both have the knack of using the long handle to blasting effect. In addition, the track did not have enough venom, which gave them the edge. If Kohli came at No. 3, it would have taken England aback. On the other hand, Ajinkya Rahane has 154-ball 103 at the iconic Lord s and can bat at a brisk rate. Therefore, does scoring runs at 5 look difficult for the World No. 1?

Even if they lose early wickets, there s always the Ravichandran Ashwin-Wriddhiman Saha duo to take India out of the woods.

If truth be told, India would have lost the match. No doubt there. In that case, a draw is better than a defeat. But had West Indies in the ’80s or Australia in the ’90s left things to chance?

And again, the Adelaide Test reminds us of the Kohli approach. If he dared to play with fire then, why not now?

Easier said than done, no? However, that is what Kohli does to us writers: he makes us think. Fair and square!

England, on the other hand, were not any different. The shameful 108-run defeat against Bangladesh was definitely looming over them. All the same, given the circumstances, the result placed them in the high ground. The draw was a blessing in disguise, for they kick-started the gruelling 5-match series with some stunning individual performances.

It’s been a good five days for us. We’ve put everything on the line there. It’s disappointing not to get over the line, but it was a great Test and everyone can be proud of the way they played, Cook concluded.

What to expect from the second Test at Visakhapatnam? Better catching, better decision-making and better cricket: it is a no-brainer.

In other news, KL Rahul is back in the Indian side. After a hamstring injury in the first Test against New Zealand, the stylish right-hander was rested for the remainder of the series. He was replaced Shikhar Dhawan, who again was injured to be eventually replaced by Gautam Gambhir. Now, Rahul is all set to play in the place of Gambhir.

Rahul scored 76 and 106 against Rajasthan in Ranji Trophy 2016-17 last week, and proved that he is in the best of fitness. His inclusion also means that Gambhir, who scored 29 and 0 in the series opener, is more than likely to be dropped.

He [Rahul] has recovered now, and as per the protocol we wanted him to go and play a First-Class match. Since the match was happening very close to Vizag, it’s good to have him in the squad, said India coach Anil Kumble said.

Gambhir may have been spectacular in the domestic circuit of late, but Rahul s display at the international level has been peerless, which eventually gives him the edge.

I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. I just focussed on my game, getting fit and getting rid of any niggles, KL Rahul added.

Nonetheless, India still have few loopholes to work on. Whether to attack with a five-bowler strategy or feature an extra batsman in the line-up, is a conundrum they will face in the Visakhapatnam Test.

If they go for six specialist batsmen, would leg-spinner Amit Mishra be dropped?

He took 4 wickets in the first Test the most by an Indian bowler. Moreover, his figures read 6-2-18-5 the last time India played an international encounter at Visakhapatnam.

I was quite surprised to see that much grass, to be honest. It should not have been the case, Kohli expressed disappointment after the Rajkot Test.

However, the pitch curators at have offered a neutral wicket for the second Test. It’s a neutral pitch for both the teams. Both the teams have seen the pitch, and they are very happy. Both the curators the board curator Mr K Sriram and our ACA curator Mr K Nagamallaiah have done a very good job, Ashwin Bhowmick, BCCI curator from East Zone, told ESPNcricinfo.

As a result, the in-form Mishra may have to make way for a specialist batsman.

England, on the other hand, need no change in the XI. For that matter, they had four centurions: Cook, Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes. Plus, their bowlers played well as a cohesive unit.

England apparently have the upper hand not because they got the better of India in the last three consecutive series, but they have applied themselves better so far than the home team did.


India: Virat Kohli (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav

England: Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Zafar Ansari, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jake Ball, Gary Balance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Haseeb Hameed, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes

Time: 09:30 local | 04:00 GMT

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)