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England left with plenty to ponder after heavy Trent Bridge defeat

All outcomes are possible in the Specsavers series after India’s landslide victory.

England’s mammoth 203-run defeat to India at Trent Bridge leaves the Specsavers series poised at 2-1 to the hosts, with two matches to play.

Here, Press Association Sport ponders the lessons of Nottingham.

World’s best team beginning to stir

After the world’s number one team had gone 2-0 down, taking in a titanic struggle at Edgbaston and then a landslide defeat at Lord’s, one senior member of the Indian press corps abandoned his trip summarily and announced he would return only if the tourists battle back to be 2-2 when the final Test starts at The Oval. He may need to get his documents back in a row sharpish – because Inidia proved in Nottingham that they do have the potential to push their hosts all the way, even in English conditions.

Buttler a Test batsman after all

The purple patch was waning after Jos Buttler’s productive recall to Test cricket at the start of this summer, at the behest of new national selector Ed Smith. But he demonstrated in England’s second innings that not only can he bash the ball around – as he has proved to brilliant effect in white-ball cricket the world over – but he can bat at Test match tempo. His maiden century, in a stand of 169 with Ben Stokes, was a breakthrough performance which has been four years in coming – but bodes well for the remainder of his career.

Stokes can play under pressure too

There was plenty of attention on England’s premier all-rounder. He is used to that, of course, but it was rarefied as he made his swift return at Trent Bridge – controversial with some – following his affray acquittal at Bristol Crown Court just four days before the start of the match. Stokes responded with a whole-hearted display with the ball and in the field, rewarded by unspectacular figures, before digging in to defy India for more than 60 overs with his slowest Test half-century on the fourth day.

England have selection issues again

Jonny Bairstow’s broken finger is reportedly highly likely to rule him out of the next Test, and maybe the last too. England have a ready-made substitute behind the stumps, in Buttler, but suddenly have a hole in their middle order. With issues at the top of the list too, as Alastair Cook and his opening partner Keaton Jennings continue to struggle, the selectors have much to ponder before a squad announcement which will be made by Sunday at the latest. At this stage, it seems probable they will avoid secondary changes if the absence of Bairstow enforces at least one – and Moeen Ali’s spectacular all-round match for Worcestershire against Yorkshire at Scarborough makes him the likeliest lad to return to the XI.

Roll on Southampton

A series which many pundits had written off in England’s favour, some predicting a whitewash, is suddenly very much alive again. The Ageas Bowl, on the evidence of two previous Tests at the venue, promises a pacy pitch – perhaps with help for spin. It is an enticing prospect for a five-match contest in which all outcomes remain possible.

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