SOUTHAMPTON, England - After England's last-day batting collapse against India in the second test at Lord's, the pressure and scrutiny on captain Alastair Cook seems to be reaching its peak.
England slumped from 198-5 to 225 all out as India won its first test away from home in three years, taking a 1-0 lead in the five-test series. The squads drew the first test at Trent Bridge.
Here are five things to know for the third test at the Rose Bowl, starting Sunday:
COOK'S WOES: England's captain is without a century in 14 months and his team has lost seven of its last nine tests. Immediately after England's collapse against India, Cook said this run of poor form has been his "darkest time" as an England cricketer. He refused to step down as skipper after the embarrassing 95-run loss at Lord's, though, saying he wants to "stay until my position becomes untenable." One glimmer of hope for the opening batsmen is that while he only made 10 and 22 in each of his innings at Lord's, his footwork was noticeably better and he hit the ball much straighter.
LINEUP CHANGE: England made just one change to its 13-man squad for the third test, with the uncapped Jos Buttler in for injured wicketkeeper Matt Prior. Prior announced after the loss to India he was taking an indefinite break from the game to regain his fitness after struggling with Achilles, thigh and hand injuries. This paved the way for Buttler, England's one day keeper, to enter the test team. Buttler, an aggressive batsman when not behind the stumps, says he will not be intimidated by making his debut for a team under intense pressure to end its winless streak.
"I'm an England fan, as well, but I'm not coming in expecting to be the one person who can fix English cricket," Buttler said Tuesday. "I'm coming in determined to be authentic, to be myself and to enjoy the occasion helping England."
VETERAN LEADERSHIP: After a 1-0 series defeat to Sri Lanka in June and two underwhelming performances against India, England coach Peter Moores is also under scrutiny, just four months after taking the job for the second time. At Lord's, he said the form of his veteran players was a major concern. In addition to the struggles of Prior and Cook, Ian Bell only managed 42 runs overall against India and bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad couldn't stop India from batting through day one at Lord's.
"They will be desperate to make a big contribution going forward," Moores said. "The senior players have got to look at their own games and decide how they can come back and play to the level needed to be in a successful England team."
JADEJA VS. ANDERSON: The fallout continues after the confrontation between Ravindra Jadeja and James Anderson as they left the field for lunch on day two of the first test at Trent Bridge. Anderson faces a hearing on Aug. 1 for allegedly pushing and abusing Jadeja, which could lead to him being banned for up to four test matches. The Indian allrounder, meanwhile, was fined 50 per cent of his match fee on Friday for his part in the incident.
The acrimony between the two has made for a riveting duel on the pitch. In the second test at Lord's, Anderson was caught out trying to reverse-sweep Jadeja in England's first innings. Jadeja then blasted 68 from 57 balls in a game-changing knock in India's second innings before running Anderson out with a direct hit to win the test match.
KUMAR'S PLAY: Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a revelation for India with both the bat and ball in the series. He managed figures of 5-82 on a lifeless Trent Bridge wicket, and followed it up with a career best 6-82 in England's first innings at Lord's. With the bat, he has made 209 runs from ninth in the order, including three half centuries. He did not win man of the match in either test, but has arguably been the player of the series so far.
© Coast Reporter