With KL Rahul called in a Test early, it looks like Gautam Gambhir might have to sit out the second Test match against England, with India keen on bringing in the Karnataka opener to bolster their batting order. After coming up second best in Rajkot, without losing the match, India will look for a better all-round performance in Visakhapatnam.
While India scored plenty of runs in the first innings of the first Test match, there was no assurance of a great opening stand for the middle order to gain confidence from. Even after Gambhir's various technique changes, he still looks a little suspect against quality fast bowling, and, as a result, Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli decided to call Rahul in, after the latter impressed for Karnataka with the bat in the Ranji Trophy.
Rahul was not in the initial squad for first two matches because of a hamstring injury picked up in the first Test against New Zealand, but now that he has proven his fitness, India are understandably keen to get him back playing in whites again.
There is still a slight chance of Gambhir also playing this Test match, if India decide to go with six batsmen and choose the veteran left-hander over Karun Nair, the other pure batsman in the squad. However, that is unlikely, and, as it stands, it does look like India will play five bowlers again, or, maybe, the all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
If it is going to be five pure bowlers, Kohli and Kumble have a decision to make over the personnel. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav were outstanding with the ball in the first Test, so they should keep their place barring a late injury. While R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were not at their best, they have proven records in these conditions, so that is four of the five bowlers.
The fifth bowler for the opening Test match was Amit Mishra, but the leg-spinner was a major disappointment, picking up just three wickets in the match and also failing to make an impact with the bat, when he was called upon.
More than the lack of wickets, it was his line and length that was the problem, with Mishra struggling to find any sort of rhythm throughout the game. England's leg-spinner Adil Rashid comfortably outbowled Mishra, and that is something that will worry Kohli.
The other spin option in the squad is Jayant Yadav, but if he is selected, it will mean a debut against one of the better teams in the world when India are under pressure to produce a result. Such situations bring out the best in some players, and what Kohli needs to gauge is if Jayant is one of those.
The fact that he is an off-spinner and England have so many left-handers is something that will work in his favour and surely Jayant cannot do any worse than Mishra did in the first Test match. What works in Mishra's favour, however, is this is the same ground where the leg-spinner picked up a five-for to help India clinch the ODI series against New Zealand last month. If that is a good enough reason to keep him in the team or not, will be known half an hour before the start of play.
With the Visakhapatnam pitch expected to aid the slower bowlers more, India are unlikely to go with an extra pace bowler, so Ishant Sharma might have to sit out another match, even if there have been calls for the pacer to replace Umesh. The Andhra Pradesh Cricket Association has promised a neutral pitch – whatever that means – for this Test match, after K Sriram, the BCCI curator, had said the surface is likely to turn from the second session of day two.
However the wicket turns out to be, India also have the option of going with four bowlers – most likely three spinners and a fast bowler – and Pandya, who can turn his arm over to decent effect.
England will not want to make too many changes to their lineup, after impressing in the first Test match. With Haseeb Hameed showing he belongs on the Test match stage, the opener worries are also over for the moment.
Alastair Cook and Trevor Bayliss, the captain and coach respectively, however, do have a decision to make on James Anderson. England's highest wicket-taker has made himself available for the second Test after recovering from a stress fracture on his shoulder, but with Chris Woakes, who is carrying a small niggle according to Cook, and Stuart Broad bowling well, England might want to keep Anderson for the third Test in Mohali, where he is likely to get more assistance.
Anderson, though, is a great exponent of reverse-swing bowling, so it won't be an easy decision for England to make.
Confirmed playing XI:
India: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
England: Alastair Cook, Haseeb Hameed, Joe Root, Ben Duckett, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Zafar Ansari, James Anderson, Stuart Broad.