Cook, Haseeb ready for India series
Opener Alastair Cook is approaching a test record as England captain while fellow opener Haseeb Hameed is on the verge of a test debut as the tourists seek to strengthen their top order for a testing series against India.
The England tour of India was cleared to take place at the last minute yesterday - 24 hours before the first test toss - when the country’s supreme court and the Board of Control for Cricket in India settled a financial dispute.
The BCCI filed a late plea in the Supreme Court to release funds for hosting the fivetest series. The supreme court agreed to allow the BCCI to withdraw 5.87 million rupees to fund the series.
England is coming off an embarrassing loss in Bangladesh, but skipper Cook is aiming for yet another record. Already the most capped player for England, with 135, and the leading test scorer with 10,688 runs, he will break the record he shares with Mike Atherton as England test captain when he leads the team for the 55th time.
He has already said 19-year-old Hameed will make his debut at the expense of Gary Ballance, making him the youngest opening partner Cook has ever had.
“It is time to give a young guy his opportunity,” Cook said Tuesday. “Haseeb hasn’t been overawed during his time so far with this squad. He is a natural run-scorer and looks to be more experienced than his age suggests.”
The inclusion of Hameed would push Ben Duckett down to No. 4. Duckett scored a half century against Bangladesh but did not impress.
The bowling attack will also be overhauled. James Anderson has re-joined the England squad but is unavailable for selection. That leaves Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes to lead the pace attack, while Moeen Ali could share the spin duties with recalled Gareth Batty and Adil Rashid.
England is the only foreign team to win a test series on Indian soil - in 2012-13 since Australia in 2004-05, and has beaten India in three consecutive series.
“We can only look forward to what we can do in the future,” India skipper Virat Kohli said. “We want to win series, and we want to win test matches.” The Indian skipper didn’t reveal his playing XI, though he doesn’t have many tough decisions to make. Gautam Gambhir is expected to open with Murali Vijay, while the only difficult choice would be over the make-up of the bowling attack.
Ishant Sharma is fit for selection, while Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami are back after being rested for the ODIs against New Zealand.
India opted for a four-bowler attack during the New Zealand test series, and could aim to do the same again. If that’s the case, Karun Nair could make his debut and bat at No. 6. One of the most significant selections of the series will be the use of DRS for the first time in a test series on Indian soil. The adoption of the Decision Review System, using technology to review umpiring decisions, marks a new chapter of harmony in test cricket across the world. India had previously refused to accept DRS. — AP
RAJKOT: England’s captain Alastair Cook (R) looks on as teammate Stuart Broad makes a throw during a training session at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium in Rajkot on the eve of the first test match against England yesterday. — AFP