England recall Mark Wood, with Shoaib Bashir making way

GEORGE DOBELL IN RAJKOT: Wood will form a two-man seam attack with James Anderson, while Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed and Joe Root form the spin bowling unit


England have recalled Mark Wood to their team for the team for the third Test against India.

Wood will form a two-man seam attack with James Anderson, while Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed and Joe Root form the spin bowling unit.

Wood replaces off-spinner Shoaib Bashir who impressed in making his Test debut in Vizag. But with Root also offering off-spin, Shoaib has been the one to make way.

The pitch looks, at this stage, flat. But with warmer weather – 35 degrees – expected at the weekend, it could offer more assistance for bowlers later in the game. The side winning the toss looks certain to bat first.

Although England have not played a Test in Rajkot since 2016, their captain, Ben Stokes, suggested their experiences in that game had influenced their selection for this match.

In that match, England amassed 537 in their first innings thanks to centuries from Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Stokes. They then had India six down in their second innings when they had to settle for a draw.

"We're taking a bit of knowledge from the last Test match we played here, albeit a long time ago," Stokes said. "It was a pretty true, flat wicket. Looking at it today, it looks a bit platey but I think it's a good wicket.

"You look down and there's a few cracks that meet up. Only time will tell if they will come into it. Over the five days, those plates might become a little bit uneven. There might be some reverse swing which brings Woody into the game and Jimmy as well.

"Bringing in an extra seamer this week is the option we've gone with because we think it's going to give us the best chance of winning this week."


Shoaib Bashir drops out for Mark Wood's return (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The issues around Rehan's visa have been resolved. He had been permitted back into the country on a temporary visa having returned from a short break in the UAE to find he only had a single-entry visa. In a sign of improved cooperation between the ECB, the BCCI and the India government, however, it seems the process was accelerated to accommodate his availability.

"It's always an anxious period but thankfully we've got it through this morning," Stokes said. "First of all, the guys at the airport did a great job at giving him his visa initially to get through and then everyone at the BCCI and the government to get the visa through quickly.

"There were no thoughts around not playing him this week. The great thing about youth is they just take everything in their stride and I thought he handled a situation could have affected quite a lot of people in a different way very well.

"The Test matches he's played so far, he's done very, very well and everything we've asked of him he's gone out and tried to deliver. I'm looking forward to him getting another game this week. We are playing Rehan because he performed really well in the first two Tests."

Stokes had warm words for Shoaib, though.

"Bash performed incredibly well in his first game for England," he said. "He’ll just take it in his stride. He's a young lad and would want to play every game possible but I've got no doubt there will be more opportunities for him going forward in this series. He's more than happy to be here, helping out the lads, improving his skills every single day."

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