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Joe Root set for unusual role against India as England skipper Ben Stokes to go with ‘gut’ decision


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Joe Root is in line to take up an unconventional role during England’s first Test of their series against India, which starts in the early hours of Thursday.

Ben Stokes admitted the former captain could open the bowling in Hyderabad as the tourists pack their side with spinners.

As has become customary in the Stokes-McCullum era, England named their XI a day out from the toss.

Mark Wood is the only seam bowler picked, with Stokes still not fit to bowl as he recovers from knee surgery.

Joe Root

Joe Root is in line for an unusual role for England against India


Three frontline spin bowlers have been picked, with debutant Tom Hartley joining Jack Leach and Rehan Ahmed.

With Shoaib Bashir not yet in India following his visa problems, Root is the only off-spinner available to Stokes.

If India opt to open with Yashasvi Jaiswal, then Root could be called into action early doors.

Stokes will go with an instinct decision, telling a press conference: “As I said about the pitches, it would be a complete and utter gut thing, as most of my decisions like that are.

“You might even see Rooty taking the new ball depending on what I feel.

“If Jaiswal opens the batting you might see Rooty opening the bowling with that new ball because it’s spinning away from the bat.”

Wood will be subject to short, sharp spells on a pitch that Stokes hopes will be favourable to his spinners.

The 32-year-old is not concerned to have just one pace bowler to pick from.

Stokes added: “I don’t necessarily think it’s bold or brave, it’s just me and Baz [Brendon McCullum] looking at the wicket and picking the XI that we think will give us the best chance.

“You have always got to think that the ball is going to turn in India, but you don’t want to go in with any preconceived ideas.

“We have to adapt to whatever we have presented in front of us, with bat and ball.

“India is one of those places where you’ve got to think about selection a lot more than anywhere else in the world, because of what you can get from the wicket.”

Uncapped Hartley only became a regular in Lancashire’s County Championship side last season.


Jack Leach and Tom Hartley

Tom Hartley will make his England Test debut against India


But Stokes has already seen enough to think he can be a handful in foreign conditions.

“Tom is someone who’s obviously very tall,” he said.

“He bowls at a very difficult pace to be able to handle out here and he’s someone who gets a lot of natural variation which, in India, is sometimes the hardest thing to face where you’ve got two of the same ball, ball after ball, and one turns square and the one could skid on and pick up pace.

Ben Stokes

England captain Ben Stokes will play as a batter only against India


“So it’s just trying to give ourselves the best chance of being able to exploit conditions that we have experienced from the Indian opposition out here as well.”

Ben Foakes will return to the team and take the gloves, with Jonny Bairstow back in at No 5.

Ollie Pope is also making his first appearance since dislocating his shoulder in the second Test of last summer’s Ashes.

The first ball of the first Test will be bowled at 4am UK time on Thursday morning.

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Written by: radioroxi

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