Hyderabad, Jan 24: Left-arm spinner Tom Hartley is all set to make his Test debut while veteran fast-bowler James Anderson misses out on England’s playing eleven for the series opener against India, starting at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Thursday.
England have named four spinners in their side, with debutant Hartley, who has played two ODIs last year, set to share spin-bowling duties alongside fellow left-arm spinner Jack Leach, leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed and part-time off-spin of Joe Root.
Hartley has taken 40 wickets in 20 first-class cricket games for Lancashire at an average of 36.57. But England have brought in with a belief that he will be able to replicate what Axar Patel did for India in the 2021 series, when the hosts’ won 3-1 at home. Captain Ben Stokes had even suggested opening the bowling with Root in spin-friendly conditions in India.
The visitors have just one fast-bowling option in tearaway pacer Mark Wood. Ahmed and Leach, along with top-order batter Ollie Pope and wicketkeeper-batter Ben Foakes, come into the side having not been involved in England’s last Test against Australia at The Oval last year.
Foakes is back in the side for his first Test since the tour of New Zealand last February. Jonny Bairstow will be the specialist batter at number five in place of Harry Brook who pulled out from the tour over the weekend due to personal reasons.
England last won a Test series in India 12 years ago, where Alastair Cook was the captain and spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar played leading roles in the 2-1 triumph. In the 2021 tour, England had won the opening Test in Chennai, but lost the next three games to lose the series 3-1 to India.
India are unbeaten in 16 home Test series after losing 2-1 to England in 2012. Meanwhile, England are yet to lose a Test series under captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.
England Playing XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes, Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, and Jack Leach. (IANS)