England make two changes for fourth India Test

The match will be played in Ranchi

By Web Desk
February 22, 2024
England's Ollie Robinson in action during the Ashes. - AFP 

Fast bowler Ollie Robinson earned a spot in the England team for the upcoming fourth Test against India in Ranchi, commencing this Friday. Spinner Shoaib Bashir has also been selected.

Robinson, aged 30, was last seen representing England in the third Ashes Test at Headingley in July. Unfortunately, he could only bowl 11.2 overs before a back spasm forced him out for the rest of the series.

He takes the place of Mark Wood, who participated in two of the India Tests. Meanwhile, Shoaib Bashir steps in for Rehan Ahmed.

Bashir, a 20-year-old spinner, made his Test debut in the second match against India at Visakhapatnam after facing a visa delay, causing him to miss the opener.

After a substantial 434-run loss in the third Test, England trails 2-1 in the ongoing five-match series. The Ranchi pitch is anticipated to be spin-friendly, prompting England captain Ben Stokes to express the desire for the young off-spinner Bashir to capitalize on the conditions.

"We do like to look at the pitch two days out and one day out because that's how we like to pick our XIs," said Stokes, who a day earlier said he had "never seen anything like" the Ranchi wicket.

The surface appears to have deep cracks down one side but looks flat on the other.

"Someone like Bash, who releases the ball from such a high release point, the extra bounce that he gets we feel is going to bring us more into the game," said Stokes.

All-rounder Stokes came into the series purely as a batsman after knee surgery last year but he bowled in the nets Wednesday, offering the kind of boost the tourists need after the heavy defeat in the third Test.

He was non-committal on Thursday about the chances of him bowling in Ranchi, saying "maybe, maybe not".

Anderson 'raring to go'

Stokes was more effusive on the subject of pace spearhead James Anderson, who will play his second straight match after a break of just five days at the age of 41.

Anderson is four short of 700 Test wickets, but returned with just one wicket in the previous match.

"If you're a young fast bowler, Jimmy Anderson is the one person who you want as your role model," Stokes said of the man dubbed the "swing king" for his ability to seam the ball both ways.

"Not only the amount of wickets he's got but the fact he can keep going at his age," said Stokes, adding that Anderson was "raring to go and feeling as fresh as a fiddle".

England have put their weight behind struggling senior batsmen Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root to come good in the final two Tests, with the team's attacking "Bazball" philosophy under scrutiny like never before.

England XI: Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Tom Hartley, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson, Shoaib Bashir.