• Tuesday, March 05, 2024

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England pick three specialist spinners for 1st Test vs India, Anderson misses out

While spinners Tom Hartley and Rehan Ahmed have played one Test match between them, Jack Leach is the more experienced one with 32 games under his belt.

England’s Ben Foakes (C) and Gus Atkinson (R) attend a practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on January 24, 2024, on the eve of their first Test match against India. (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

ENGLAND announced their playing XI for the first Test against India starting at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday (25) on the even of the match and it did not feature their veteran seamer James Anderson, who is only 10 scalps short of 700 wickets in the format.

The visitors, who picked a spin-heavy squad for the challenging five-match series, picked three specialist spinners in the side, including the uncapped Tom Hartley and one-match-old Rehan Ahmed. The experienced Jack Leach is the other one. The Three Lions will also have the service of Joe Root as the fourth spinning option.

Mark Wood was the only specialist pacer picked in the XI which is led by ace all-rounder Ben Stokes. Four from the playing XI, including Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes, Ahmed and Leach did not feature in England’s last Test played against Australia at the Oval last summer. Foakes will play as the wicket-keeper while the specialist batters’ line-up includes Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Pope, Root, Jonny Bairstow and Stokes.

Read: PM Sunak’s office reacts as Shoaib Bashir faces visa issue for India tour

The visiting captain was not pleased with the Shoaib Bashir episode as the 20-year-old offbreak bowler and was visibly upset over the alleged treatment given to the youngster during his pre-match conference. He also said that he initially suggested the squad should not go to India without Bashir, Sky Sports reported.

However, it did not turn out to be the case and Stokes said there was “never a chance” of England boycotting the first Test, the report added.

Read: England may open with 2 spinners in India Tests, says veteran James Anderson

“When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn’t fly until Bash gets his visa but that was a little bit tongue in cheek,” he said.

“I know it’s a way bigger thing, doing that. That was probably just [my] emotions around the whole thing. There was never a chance that we were not going to travel around this but Bash knows he’s had our full support.

“I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this. As a leader, as a captain, when one of your team-mates is affected by something like that you do get a bit emotional.

Bashir, who is of Pakistani origin, returned to England to sort out the issue of him getting the visa to India.

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