The anticipation only continues to build towards the first game day of India and Englands first test series of 2024. The two cricketing powerhouses however come off the back of drastically different previous outlings, with the Indian cricket team still relishing from their ICC ODI World Cup defeat.
However, this is all whilst the England side continue to struggle for form, with the defending world champions falling extremely short in their efforts of retaining world champion status, exiting the World Cup in the group stages and following this up with back to back defeats against the West Indies cricket team in both T20 and ODI series.
England Adopt Alternative Brand Of Test Cricket
Aiming to turn their fortunes though, it looks like the England cricket team will employ a more aggressive approach to the test series against India, marking the return of the high-risk, high reward ‘Bazball’ strategy. When facing off against India’s renowned spin ballers, the battle between these two approaches will likely be the story throughout the 5 tests.
Instead of having all of their focus on stopping runs from the prolific batters in the Indian cricket team lineup, England will instead prioritise taking wickets, building pressure against their opposition, only reasserted by the attacking fields captain Ben Stokes sets out for his team.
By moving his fielders high up instead of on the boundary, England will attempt to entice the Indian batters into big shots, something which has been highly successful since ‘Bazball’ was first implemented, seeing the side lose just 3 tests out of the 14 they have utilised this strategy.
However, it will not just be this nuanced bowling approach which England look to apply in the test series, with the batting lineup looking to score at any given chance in any way which they see fit, allowing them to express themselves and exert even more pressure on the intricate spin bowlers from the Indian national cricket team.
Surprising Squad Announcements
India Squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Ravichandran Ashwin, KS Bharat. Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Dhruv Jurel, Avesh Khan, Virat Kohli, Mukesh Kumar, Axar Patel, Rajat Patidar, KL Rahul, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav.
England Squad: Ben Stokes (C), Ollie Pope (VC), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Shoaib Bashir, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Mark Wood.
Although some names in the lineups were as to be expected, there were still a handful of surprise inclusions and omissions for both sides. After withdrawing from the test due to personal reasons on the 21st January, Dan Lawrence took the place of Harry Brook in the squad. The very next day, Indian icon and star player Virat Kohli withdrew from the frist two test as well, with this also being cited to personal reasons. In his place, Rajat Patidar was named as his stand-in, filling the big boots left by the big hitting Kohli.
Many questions were raised over the inclusion of Dhruv Jurel as he received his maiden call up to his national team, with this being down to the fact veterans such as Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishan Kishan all missing out.
A surprise inclusion for the England side was Shoaib Bashir, with the Somerset 20 year old who has just 6 first class matches to his name. Although the uncapped spin bowler received his maiden callup to the senior side, he returned home due to his being denied by India, preventing him from travelling with the rest of the squad. Although this sparked rumours of a first test boycott due to the denial coinciding with the players Pakistani heritage, captain Ben Stokes came out and clarified that this was not the case, with Bashir still garnering full support from the squad as he returned home to resolve his visa issue.
England also selected two other uncapped players, with those being Gus Atkinson, the fast bowler from Surrey, and left arm spin bowler Tom Hartley from Surrey. Although these two players have already taken to the field for their nation in white ball cricket, they are yet to feature in a test match for England.
Chance For Redemption For England
By defying trends and taking the series head on, England will hope to build on top of their impressive test record, all while making up for their disappointing recent outings in both T20 and ODI matches. Despite the new approach they aim to adopt though, India are never to be overlooked, especially considering their recent form in the World Cup where they only lost a singular match.
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