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Robinson and Bashir have been brought back into the England team for the crucial fourth Test against India.
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Robinson and Bashir have been brought back into the England team for the crucial fourth Test against India.

Ben Stokes has modified his England team for the crucial fourth Test against India, set to begin on Friday in Ranchi. It appears to be a strategic move rather than an excessive one, as he has brought in Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir in anticipation of a spin-friendly pitch.

Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed have been removed from the team after their 434-run loss in Rajkot, leaving the tourists at a 2-1 disadvantage with two more games to go. Stokes explained that Wood was not included due to his high workload and the need to ensure he can perform at his top speed.

When 20-year-old Bashir comes back to play his second Test match, it seems that the rough pitch in Ranchi would be better for finger spin. This could mean that Jimmy Anderson is chosen over Ahmed for the final decision.

The leg-spinner has had a hard time maintaining a low economy rate in this series, averaging 4.08 runs per over. On the other hand, although Yashasvi Jaiswal was able to score against him in the third Test’s final day, Anderson usually has better control. He is also just four wickets away from reaching 700 in Test cricket, which is something Stokes is counting on.

It is impressive that Anderson, who is 41 years old, is physically and mentally prepared to continue playing after only a five-day break and having bowled 38 overs in Rajkot. Robinson, who is replacing Wood, adds height to the team, which could be beneficial if the pitch conditions change in the upcoming days.

Stokes, on the other hand, has not made a definite decision to bowl in the game despite increasing his training intensity this week. He stated that he felt good physically after a strenuous session two days before the match, but his return as a full all-rounder after knee surgery in November may be influenced by the course of the game.

“I am eager to reach our destination, but I must also be practical,” he stated. “I believe the conditions may favor spin, but having two seamers on our team increases our chances of success, especially with Ollie Robinson’s release height and his consistent accuracy.”

Bashir’s unique high release point gives him an advantage in the game, as it allows him to get extra bounce on the ball. This advantage will also benefit our team and bring us more success.

After referring to the field as “interesting” on Wednesday, Stokes closely examined the surface, which had noticeable cracks on one side, before selecting his team.

Stokes stated that they are often questioned about the condition of the pitch and they offer their thoughts. However, this does not mean that they have set expectations. The pitch could be extremely level or unpredictable, but they will adjust accordingly. They will not let these discussions affect their approach.

Consideration was given to promoting Dan Lawrence, who is currently serving as a substitute batter on this tour and also has experience as a part-time off-spinner. This move was suggested as a possible way to alleviate the pressure on Joe Root, who has been struggling. However, both Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum decided that it would be best not to push for this change.

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Despite a less than impressive performance on the recent tour and limited time at bat last week, Jonny Bairstow still has the support of his team. Stokes stated, “When a batter struggles for a brief period, it will be questioned. However, I choose to focus on Jonny’s consistent contributions throughout my time as captain. He has proven himself as a reliable and skilled player.”

India is once again choosing to keep their final team selection a secret until the toss, although it has been confirmed that Jasprit Bumrah will not be playing in order to rest. Prior to hearing from Ben Stokes, the team’s batting coach Vikram Rathour addressed the media in a pre-match press conference. When asked about the condition of the playing surface, Rathour responded by saying, “Every time we play in India, there is uncertainty surrounding the pitch. It is a typical Indian wicket with visible cracks, as it usually is. It will definitely offer turn, but the extent and timing of the turn is uncertain. However, we are confident in the balance of our team.”

The English team consists of Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes as captain, Ben Foakes as wicket-keeper, Tom Hartley, Ollie Robinson, Shoaib Bashir, and Jimmy Anderson.

India (possible): Rohit Sharma (c), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Jurel (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Akash Deep

Source: theguardian.com