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Mark Wood, Rehan Ahmed out of Ranchi Test

Mark Wood, Rehan Ahmed out of Ranchi Test

England have decided to maintain their two-pace, two-spin combination for the crucial fourth Test in Ranchi, with Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir replacing Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed. After their defeat in Rajkot, England are 1-2 down in the series and are looking to level the score in the fourth fixture.

This match marks Robinson’s return to Test cricket since his injury last July during the Leeds Ashes Test. He will join veteran James Anderson as the two quicks in the lineup. Wood, who Robinson replaces, took four wickets in the first innings of the third game but conceded more than four runs an over in both innings.

Bashir returns to the team after being benched for the Rajkot game following his debut in Vizag, where he bowled more than 50 overs across the two innings, conceding more than three-and-a-half runs an over and picking up four wickets. Ahmed, who makes way for Bashir, has picked up 11 wickets so far in the series, the second-best tally for England after Tom Hartley.

With the Rajkot Test played on a flat surface full of runs, there has been some focus on the expected conditions in Ranchi. Ollie Pope described the pitch as ‘interesting’ a couple of days out from the game. England seem to have kept in mind the need for more control against India’s aggressive batters against spin, choosing to pick an additional finger spinner in place of leggie Ahmed. Additionally, Ben Stokes has been seen bowling his medium pace in the lead-up to the game, though he remained coy about his chances of bowling in the fourth Test.

Speaking about Wood’s exclusion, Stokes said, “You look at the player Mark is, especially with the ball, you want someone like that operating at 100 percent. His No.1 skill is how fast he bowls, and the effort he put in last week was monumental. You want to be able to keep players like that on the field operating at that level.”

Despite expecting a spin-friendly pitch in Ranchi, Stokes highlighted Robinson’s accuracy and height as reasons for his inclusion. “Bringing Robbo in gives us good options, especially looking at this wicket. I feel like the spin will be assisted, but I also feel having two seamers gives us a good chance purely because of Ollie Robinson’s release height and his relentlessness with his areas.”

Regarding Bashir, Stokes said, “You look at what Rehan’s had to go through with the visa situation and everything like that, I think he’s handled this whole tour very very well. He’s someone a lot older than what he is. Obviously missing out on games is really disappointing. But again, when we keep the selection process consistent as we do and actually give pretty in-detail reasons as to why, it was understandable to Rehan as to why we’ve gone with that option.

“In the three games that he’s played, he’s gone out and tried everything that we’ve asked of him, as to why he’s been in the team. I think any other team, he’s batting higher than No. 8 and I think the way in which he has taken the game on with the ball is something I’ve been very, very impressed with.”

The England XI for the fourth Test includes Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Tom Hartley, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson, and Shoaib Bashir.

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