The England playing XI vs India, which is set to begin on January 25th at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad, has been announced. Skipper Ben Stokes has gone with a spinner-heavy team, which saw veteran pacer James Anderson being excluded from the playing XI.
In his last outing to India, James Anderson picked up eight wickets in three matches. Although he didn’t get to pick as many wickets, he maintained a decent average of 15.88 and produced a few crucial breakthroughs. Mark Wood is the only frontline pacer to be in the playing XI, alongside skipper Ben Stokes, who might take up a few overs of seam bowling.
Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Jack Leach will be headlining the English bowling attack. Leach, who picked up 18 wickets in four matches on their last visit to India, will hog the spotlight while 19-year-old leg-break bowler Rehan Ahmed, who became the youngest player to represent England in Tests in 2022, also makes it to the England playing XI vs India. Lancashire’s rising star Tom Hartley is all set for his Test debut in Hyderabad.
While the Indian batters will be well aware of what threat they could encounter against Jack Leach, Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley could cough up some surprises. Ahmed, on his debut against Pakistan, returned with seven wickets. It was also the only Test he played so far. They also have Joe Root as a fourth spinning option.
In the batting department, Jonny Bairstow is back in the team while Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett continue in the top order. Ollie Pope and Joe Root will be taking over the all-important No. 3 and 4 positions, while Ben Foakes, who might be keeping wickets ahead of Bairstow, will bat in the lower middle order. Root had scored 368 runs in four Tests and was the highest run-scorer in the 2021 series.
This is Brendon McCullum’s second visit to the subcontinent as the head coach of the Three Lions. After a successful trip to Pakistan in 2022, where they implemented their much-talked-about “Bazball” strategy very well. However, with the amount of turn that has been on offer at Indian venues, it may not prove to be as easy.
England struggled to come out on top against Australia in the Ashes series last year, where they finished the series well, but losing the opening two Tests meant the side from Down Under retained the Urn. In their last visit to India, where Joe Root captained the side and managed a terrific win in the first Test in Chennai, they ended up losing the next three Tests quite one-sidedly.
India played eight Tests in 2023, winning three and losing as many. They enter this series with a positive result coming from Cape Town, where they crumbled the hosts South Africa in what was the shortest Test in history.
England playing XI vs India for first Test
Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (Captain), Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Rehan Ahmed, Mark Wood, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach