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India vs England: England have named left-arm spinner Tom Hartley for the first Test

India vs England: England have named left-arm spinner Tom Hartley for the first Test

  • Written by Stefan Schimmelt
  • Hyderabad's leading cricket writer

Image source, Getty Images

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Hartley played two one-day internationals for England

Tom Hartley will make his Test debut as one of three specialist spinners in the England side for the first Test against India in Hyderabad.

Left-arm pacer Hartley, 24, joins Jack Leach and Rehan Ahmed as slow bowlers in the XI, with Mark Wood the only fast bowler.

“Looking at the past innings, you can see how spin could have given us a better chance,” captain Ben Stokes told BBC Sport.

“We feel that having the three spinners will give us the best chance.”

Stokes has already confirmed that Ben Fox will return to keep wicket in what will be his first Test since February, while Harry Brook is out after leaving the tour for personal reasons.

Lancashire's Hartley took 40 wickets in 20 first-class matches and also played two one-day internationals for England.

On his Test debut, he will provide an extraordinary attack for England on a very dry surface.

Leg-spinner Ahmed, 19, has played just one Test, while senior leg Leach has not played for England since June due to a back injury.

Wood offers plenty of pace as a lone seamer, but has a checkered injury record.

“The decision was to look at the field and think about who we would benefit from the most,” said Stokes, who is no longer fit to play after surgery on his left knee.

“Are we going to be playing seamers, or extra spin? This is no disrespect to the seamers we have. Pitches and conditions may change as the tour goes on, then we may have to look at a different dynamic.”

England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonathan Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Ben Fox, Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, Jack Leach

The fourth player in the England squad, 20-year-old Shoaib Bashir, was forced to return to the UK after his visa was delayed.

Al-Bashir, who is of Pakistani origin, is expected to be able to enter India at the end of the week.

Stokes said it was “devastating” for the Somerset man, but also dispelled any suggestion that England might have boycotted the Test in protest over the situation.

“When I first heard the news in Abu Dhabi, I said we shouldn’t fly until Bash got his visa, but that was a bit cynical,” Stokes said.

For England, the start of a 17-Test year represents the biggest challenge since Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took charge in the summer of 2022.

England have not lost a series since Stokes and McCullum took over, but they face an Indian side that has not been beaten in a home Test series since 2012. In that time, India have lost just three of their 46 home Tests.

“This team thrives on challenges,” Stokes said. “We see this tour as an opportunity to do something that teams find very difficult to do.

“Even coming here and winning one match is a mark, just because of how difficult it is to play India in India.

“We are not afraid of the monster that India is in India. We will take whatever we can. Success is about sticking to who we are. We know that if we play anywhere near our ability, we will make it very difficult for India to beat us.”

India are without talismanic batsman Virat Kohli who has withdrawn from the first two Tests of the five-match series citing personal reasons. Baseball player Mohamed Al-Shami is absent due to injury.

The hosts are set to field three specialist players, with one of Axar Patel or Kuldeep Yadav joining Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin in the XI.

When asked how his team would counter England's aggressive intentions, captain Rohit Sharma said he was “not interested in looking at how the opponent will play”.

Regarding his team's unbeaten record at home, Rohit rejected the suggestion that India are unbeatable.

“There is a possibility that you will lose. This is what happens in sports,” the editorial said. “The record we have does not guarantee that we will reach the top, we still have to play our best cricket.

“England are a very good team, they play good Test cricket. It's important that we stick to our strengths. I'm not going to say we're unbeatable, of course we are. That's what we want to be, to think that if we don't progress we'll find ourselves in trouble.” “.

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