England Eye Extra Seamer for Crucial Third Test in Rajkot, Anderson and Wood To Bowl Together
England vice-captain Ollie Pope hinted at a potential shift in strategy for the upcoming third Test against India, suggesting the tourists might field an extra seamer on the Rajkot pitch. With the series tied 1-1, the decision hinges largely on the pitch conditions, which currently boast a covering of green grass.
“If it stays like that, there’s every chance two seamers will be played,” Pope told BBC Sport. “It looks a pretty good pitch, but we’ll make a final call closer to the start.”
This potential change could see Mark Wood join James Anderson in the playing XI. Wood participated in full training despite sporting a strap on his left leg. Ollie Robinson, who bowled extensively in the nets, presents another option.
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Text to enlaThe inclusion of an extra seamer would necessitate dropping one of the young spinners in the squad: Rehan Ahmed, Shoaib Bashir, and Tom Hartley. Ahmed, the youngest among them, appears the most likely candidate to miss out.
Ahmed, 19, briefly encountered a visa issue upon returning to India after the team’s break in Abu Dhabi. Thankfully, local authorities issued a temporary visa, allowing him to join the squad while the permanent one gets processed.
England are already without senior spinner Jack Leach, who had to leave the tour due to a knee injury.
The third Test holds additional significance for Ben Stokes, who will be celebrating his 100th Test appearance. Joining an elite group of 16 England cricketers, Stokes’ dedication and impact were lauded by his teammate Pope.
“What a legend of the game,” said Pope. “He gives everything he has, and his achievements are a testament to that. I hope he continues to entertain us for many years to come.”
With the series delicately poised and the pitch offering potential assistance to seamers, England’s final selection promises to be intriguing. The third Test begins in Rajkot on Thursday, February 15th, and cricket fans worldwide eagerly await the next chapter in this captivating series.