Ahead of the third Test between India and England at Headingley, Nasser Hussain has called the batting line-ups of the two sides vulnerable, while pointing out that the game can change at any given juncture over the course of five days. India, after their emphatic win at Lord's, lead the series 1-0.
Nasser Hussain, the former England skipper, said on Friday that the surface of Headingley has looked flat this year, but England and India are two vulnerable batting line-ups, so it is difficult to predict which team will come on top during the third Test which kick starts from August 25.
The statement from Hussain comes after England lasted just 51.5 overs on the second innings at Lord's, going down 151 runs. On the dramatic final day, India lost the crucial wicket of Rishabh Pant early but Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah partnered for 89 runs for the 9th wicket as India set a 272-run target for the hosts.
"England had a mad hour but that's the brilliance of Test cricket," Hussain told the Daily Mail. "The game can change so often over five days. It could be different at Headingley. It has looked very flat this year. But these are two vulnerable batting line-ups."
"It will be difficult with so many bowlers out injured, and the way England are batting," the 53-year-old commented on the hosts' chances of staging a comeback. "But, I repeat, they were in a position to win the second Test on the final morning so that game wasn't all bad."
Notably, senior England pacer Stuart Broad has been ruled out of the series following a calf injury, while there were doubts over James Anderson's participation in the second Test. Anderson, who became Test cricket's third-highest wicket-taker during the first Test, had skipped England's practice session ahead of the Lord's Test due to tightness in his quad muscles.
England batting line-up has also coped criticism due to consistent failures of the top-order. Barring captain Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, no other English batsman has stood up against the Indian bowling in the series yet.
"This batting demise has been a long time coming," Hussain remarked. "It's not just England by the way. It's red-ball batters around the world. It only seems to be the two World Test Championship finalists in New Zealand and India who are producing high-quality red-ball batsmen."
On the other hand, the Indian batsmen have delivered at crucial junctures of the game. KL Rahul, the centurion of the second Test, has looked sharp, while his opening partner Rohit Sharma is also getting starts. Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara also returned to form with gutsy 61 and 45-run innings respectively in India's second innings at Lord's. However, skipper Virat Kohli is still in search of a big score in the format he holds dearly to his heart.