Jack Leach has been ruled out of England’s second Test against India with a knee injury.
Leach started feeling discomfort during the first Test which England won by 28 runs in Hyderabad.
The loss of Leach pushes Somerset team-mate Shoaib Bashir one step closer to an international debut.
England will settle on their XI for Friday’s match in Visakhapatnam after taking a final look at the pitch, but will need to rethink in the absence of their senior spinner.
Table of Contents
England Test series in India 2024
- First Test – England win by 28 runs in Hyderabad
- Second Test – February 2-6 (Vizag)
- Third Test – February 15-19 (Rajkot)
- Fourth Test – February 23-27 (Ranchi)
- Fifth Test – March 7-11 (Dharamshala)
The 32-year-old was in visible discomfort for most of England’s remarkable victory in the first Test, where he played a restricted role, and finally gave in to the inevitable after sitting out Wednesday’s training session with bruising and swelling on his left knee.
“He’s ruled out of the second Test. Unfortunately the knock he took resulted in a haematoma,” said captain Ben Stokes, who hailed Leach as a “warrior” last week for struggling though the series-opener.
“It’s a big shame for us and a big shame for him. It’s something we’re assessing every day but the medical team have taken over on that so hopefully it’s not something too serious that keeps him out for longer.”
While England will be without one of their most experienced spinners, it does raise the chances of a debut for his Taunton team-mate Bashir.
The 20-year-old, who has just six first-class caps and 10 career wickets to his name, was a belated arrival in India after visa complications related to his Pakistani heritage forced him to return home to London.
But, after banking some unwanted air miles, he is back with the squad and played a full part in training. Rehan Ahmed, the leg-spinning all-rounder, sat out the optional session but is understood to be fully fit.
Despite Bashir’s limited track record, he impressed during the pre-series training camp in Abu Dhabi. Tom Hartley’s nine wickets on debut in Hyderabad, meanwhile, are unlikely to deter England from backing another hunch.
“He’s a great kid, he’s got a lot about him,” Crawley said of Bashir. “He knows what he is trying to do with his bowling, and he backs himself.
“I like that and feel like if he got his chance in this series he would go well.”
India have had injury problems of their own, losing the world’s No 1 all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul after the first Test.
Their most glaring absentee remains Virat Kohli, who top-scored with 167 when England played their only previous Test in Visakhapatnam seven years ago and remains unavailable due to personal reasons.
There is a growing feeling that the wind is blowing in England’s direction but Crawley, who was part of the side who went from 1-0 up to a 3-1 defeat here in 2021, is keen to not get carried away.
“Whoever they pick, they’re going to be a very good team,” Crawley said. “They’re a top side in their own conditions.
“There are four games left and we need to stick to what we do well. Hopefully the results come from there but we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves.
“We’re preparing for this one like it’s the first game, we’re staying where our feet are and we’ll see where that takes us.”
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