As the much-anticipated first Test between India and England kicks off in Hyderabad, England has unveiled a notable playing XI, opting for a spin-heavy strategy. A standout in the lineup is Lancashire spinner Tom Hartley, who is set to make his Test debut, bringing a fresh dynamic to the Three Lions’ approach.
In a surprising move, England has named four spinners in their side, with Ben Stokes leading the team and Ben Foakes taking on the wicketkeeping duties.
The England XI against India comprises Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, and Jack Leach.
Notably, 41-year-old pacer James Anderson is excluded from the playing XI, emphasizing England’s reliance on a spin-heavy attack. Hartley, a 24-year-old left-arm spinner, joins the spin trio alongside Jack Leach and legspinner Rehan Ahmed. The XI features a solitary fast bowler in Mark Wood.
Hartley, with 40 wickets from 20 First-Class appearances at an average of 36.57, brings a promising spin option for England. The decision to opt for a spin-centric strategy could pose challenges for the Indian batting lineup, particularly against left-arm orthodox spinners.
Noteworthy statistics reveal Indian batters’ struggles against left-arm orthodox spin in Asia since 2021. According to Cricbuzz, Virat Kohli and R Ashwin have been dismissed eight times each, while Rohit Sharma has seven dismissals. Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill have faced difficulties, being dismissed six times each.
Shoaib Bashir, another spinner in the England squad, is currently awaiting his visa to join the team in India. Bashir’s absence highlights the team’s dedication, with efforts made to expedite the visa process, underlining the importance of spin options in England’s strategic approach against India in this Test series.