India in England 2018

Much-changed England head to second Test against India looking to keep the momentum going

Chris Woakes, Ollie Pope and Moeen Ali could all be in the line-up for the second Test.

England will be without Ben Stokes while India could make changes too for the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday.

Stokes played a starring role in England’s 31-run win in the first Test of a five-match series at Edgbaston last week, including taking the wicket of India captain Virat Kohli, who had been anchoring the tourists’ run-chase.

But Stokes was omitted by England because he is in court this week on a criminal charge of affray.

Fellow pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes has been called up in his place to the England squad, with uncapped Surrey batsman Ollie Pope selected instead of Dawid Malan, dropped after a run of low scores.

But in a dry English summer that has seen pitches more receptive to slow bowling than usual, England could recall off-spinner Moeen Ali, an accomplished batsman, to partner leg-break bowler Adil Rashid even though England captain Joe Root bowls occasional off-breaks.

That England won their 1,000th Test owed much to Pope’s fellow 20-year-old Surrey rising star Sam Curran.

As well as taking five wickets in his main role as a left-arm swing bowler, Curran’s sparkling second-innings 63, his maiden Test fifty, enabled England to set India a tricky target of 194.

It proved beyond the tourists, despite Kohli making 51 to follow his first-innings 149 – the star batsman’s maiden Test century on English soil.

Neither side made 300 in the match, England posting 287 before top-ranked India replied with 274 in the first innings.

India struggled against the swinging ball, with England finding it difficult to combat Ravichandran Ashwin’s off-spin.

In 17 Tests since Root became captain in July 2017, England have managed just nine hundreds between them and, even more concerningly for their fans, have been dismissed for under 300 in their first innings seven times and for under 250 in the second innings nine times.

If they are serious about rising from their current position of fifth in the world Test rankings, it is a problem England must address.

In Pope they have a batsman who has been in superb form for County Championship leaders Surrey so far this season with 684 runs at a huge average of 85.50, including three centuries and a top score of 158 not out.

Root, frustratingly run out for 80 in England’s first innings at Edgbaston, said it was important to put the side’s batting struggles into perspective.

“I think it’s sometimes easy to criticise the batting group but I thought the way both seaming groups in particular bowled was outstanding.”

‘Tough choice’

India too could make a top-order change with the experienced Cheteshwar Pujara waiting in the wings if struggling opener Shikhar Dhawan is omitted.

They also have the option of playing a second-spinner, be it orthodox left-armer Ravindra Jadeja or left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya the man most likely to miss out if either slow bowler is selected.

“It’s a good choice, a tough one too,” Bharat Arun, India’s bowling coach, told reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday.

“We really need to look at any change in strategy, depending on the wicket.”

But Arun said Jasprit Bumrah was “out of contention”, the paceman still sidelined after missing the first Test with the broken thumb he suffered during a Twenty20 international against Ireland in June.

As for India needing more runs from their batsmen, Arun said: “If you look at the (Edgbaston) scores, it’s only Virat Kohli and Joe Root who have been able to contend with the moving ball.

“The conditions were trying. The challenge is there for us to adapt even better and we have our plans in place.”

But he was wary of playing an extra batsman at Lord’s.

“I would consider that as a conservative move,” Arun added.

“Everything depends on the conditions – and if the conditions are not going to be as friendly as in the first Test, it makes more sense to play five bowlers.”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.