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Jack Leach from England will not be able to continue the India Test tour due to a knee injury.
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Jack Leach from England will not be able to continue the India Test tour due to a knee injury.

The English cricket team has faced a major setback in their bowling department during their tour in India. Jack Leach, their most experienced spinner, has been forced to withdraw from the rest of the series due to a knee injury.

Reworded: Last summer, Leach, who is 32 years old, was unable to participate in the Ashes series due to a lower back stress fracture. He recently returned during the first Test in Hyderabad, but on the first evening, he injured his left knee while falling on the outfield.

After being diagnosed with a haematoma, which may have been worsened by the medication he takes for his Crohn’s disease, Leach persevered through the discomfort. He bowled 36 overs in short intervals and managed to take two wickets, contributing to the team’s 28-run win.

Leach did not play in the second Test against India in Visakhapatnam, which they lost by 106 runs, resulting in a tied series of 1-1. It was initially thought that he would not be able to participate in the third Test starting on Thursday in Rajkot, but despite receiving treatment during the team’s break in Abu Dhabi, his condition has not improved and he will now go back to the UK.

During the initial portion of the tour, England had a Lions team following them, but none of the spinners were able to make a strong argument for being promoted. As a result, England has chosen not to bring in a replacement and will rely on Tom Hartley, 24, Shoaib Bashir, 20, and Rehan Ahmed, 19, as their top three options for spin, along with occasional spin from Joe Root and Dan Lawrence.

England’s Tom Hartley appeals for the wicket of India’s Yashasvi Jaiswal in the second TestView image in fullscreen

This debunks the idea of using only spin bowlers in India, as mentioned by head coach Brendon McCullum. However, another fast bowler may be added to the team alongside Jimmy Anderson this week, depending on the conditions. The choice would be between Mark Wood’s pace or Ollie Robinson’s fast-medium.

Unfortunately, this is yet another harsh setback for Leach, despite his success as the preferred spinner under the leadership of Ben Stokes with a total of 47 wickets. Only Anderson (55) and the now retired Stuart Broad (67) have achieved more during the era known as “Bazball”, and Leach has also become a significant presence in the team’s dressing room.

Under the enterprising leadership of Stokes, Hartley, Bashir, and Ahmed have excelled, collectively taking 26 wickets and successfully dismissing India in all four innings. Hartley, in particular, has performed well on the surfaces, with his left-arm bowling earning him impressive figures of seven for 62 on the fourth day in Hyderabad.

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Despite this, the departure of Leach, who has taken 126 wickets in 36 Tests so far, marks a considerable decrease in experience. The other three main players only have a combined six caps. This adds to the challenge for the Stokes-McCullum era, as they face an opposition team that has not lost a series at home in the last 11 years.

England’s second defeat, Leach, joins the loss of Harry Brook who left the team’s Abu Dhabi camp before the series due to family matters and is not anticipated to come back. India will be missing Virat Kohli (personal reasons) and Mohammed Shami (ankle) for the entirety of the series, while Ravindra Jadeja (hamstring) and KL Rahul (quad) will undergo fitness evaluations later this week.

Source: theguardian.com