NOTTINGHAM, July 28 (PTI): Stunned by the humiliating defeat at the Lord�s, India will have to quickly get their act together as they go into the second cricket Test against England here tomorrow with a serious threat to their status as the number one team.
The demoralised Indians, who lost the first Test by a resounding 196 runs, will have to pull up their socks if they hope to prevent the hosts from dislodging them from the top position.
But the injury to pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who may not be fit enough to take the field on the morrow, and the poor form of Harbhajan Singh have handicapped the bowling to a great extent while the form of some of their top order batsmen have compounded their misery.
In case Zaheer sits out, either S Sreesanth or Munaf Patel will make it to the team with the Indians preferring to go into the crucial game with three pacers and a spinner on a Trent Bridge track which was expected to help the quick bowlers.
While India would be desperate to do whatever it takes to hold on to their numero uno Test status, a series win by a two game margin will see England topple Mahendra Singh Dhoni�s men from the pinnacle.
The visitors, however, can take heart from the fact that they lost the first Test in five of their seven tours (excluding Bangladesh) in last four years, and yet recovered to avoid a series loss with the exception of once in Sri Lanka in 2008.
India came back from behind in Sri Lanka last year, and then against Australia at home and against South Africa, both at home and away. In Durban late last year, India bounced back in style after suffering a heavy defeat against the Proteas at Centurion.
And though the past can be a source of inspiration yet it should not be considered a guiding light against a ruthless opposition, who have won 12 of their last 17 Tests while losing just two games.
The Indian batting, except for a century by Rahul Dravid (103 not out) in the first innings and resistance put up by VVS Laxman (56) and Suresh Raina (78) in the second innings to save the match, was far from impressive during the opening Test that England won comfortably.
Even Sachin Tendulkar, chasing his 100th international century, could make little contribution.
In the absence of Zaheer, who sustained a hamstring strain during the Lord�s Test and was unable to bowl after the first day, Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar had to carry a huge workload on their shoulder.
Moreover the fact that England could subdue them so overwhelmingly at Lord�s without any major contributions from openers Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook, as well as Eoin Morgan, would also play on their minds.
Going into the second Test, Zaheer�s injury has left the door open for either S Sreesanth or Munaf Patel to come into the side. While Sreesanth has the ability to swing at good pace, Munaf is a steady bowler and can hold one end up.
Many experts are inclined to put it beyond Zaheer-less Indian bowling attack to claim 20 England wickets even though conditions at Trent Bridge are hugely inclined in favour of swing bowlers.
For one, this England batting line-up is virtually without a tail and, two, there is only as much as the fast bowling duo of Ishant and Praveen can do.
Meanwhile, Harbhajan�s form is also a cause of worry. At Lord�s the spinner ended up giving 218 runs for just a wicket. But the Indian management would have a tough task at hands when they sit down to decide who to play in tomorrow�s game, as the only other spinner in the squad, Amit Mishra, also did not have a great warm-up game.
The failure of the batting line up, which includes the likes of Gambhir, Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman, is also not going to help the team�s morale.
Moreover, with Tendulkar recovering from flu and Gambhir suffering from bruised elbow, India can only hope that the two key batsmen get back to full fitness tomorrow.
If fit, the team would be banking heavily on Tendulkar to bail it out of trouble, along with Dravid and Laxman. India�s fate would largely depend on the trio�s performance against a potent English attack.
On the other hand, England could fall victims to complacency but it seems unlikely after they had things under total control at Lord�s, with Kevin Pietersen scoring a double century, Matt Prior hitting a reviving second innings century and Stuart Broad returning to his form.
Teams (from): England: Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), Gautam Gambhir, Abhinav Mukund, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Wriddhiman Saha, S Sreesanth.
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle. On-field umpires: Asad Rauf and Marais Erasmus. Third umpire: Billy Bowden, Fourth umpire: Tim Robinson.