Two changes for England as Ben Stokes explains Jonny Bairstow and James Anderson decision

GEORGE DOBELL: Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed miss out after the humbling in Rajkot, with Ollie Robinson set for his first Test since the Ashes and Shoaib Bashir back in the fray


England have recalled Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir for the fourth Test against India in Ranchi.

Robinson, who will be playing his first Test since the start of July, effectively replaces Mark Wood, while Shoaib replaces leg-spinning allrounder Rehan Ahmed.

It means England, who are 2-1 down in the series with two to play, will field an attack containing two specialist seamers and two specialist spinners with Joe Root’s off-spin in support.

Captain Ben Stokes is back bowling at 100 per cent in training following knee surgery but, when asked about taking the ball in Ranchi, says he will be "very sensible".

James Anderson, aged 41, retains his place despite playing in the third Test which finished in Rajkot on Sunday (February 17).

The Lancashire seamer, who played in the defeats in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot, is within four wickets of 700 in Tests. Stokes said: "Backing a very high workload Test match to five days being fit and raring to go and feeling as fresh as a fiddle. Jimmy's wicket, his longevity and his age, he's an unbelievable role model to all young kids out there who want to be a fast bowler when they grow up.

So does Jonny Bairstow, who has endured a miserable series to date and lasted just seven balls across two innings in Rajkot.


James Anderson is four wickets short of 700 in Tests (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

"If batters have a tough time over a short period, it will come under scrutiny," said Stokes. "I don’t look at it like that, I look at what Jonny has contributed for a long period of time since I've been captain.

"He has money in the bank, he's a quality player. He's someone who has been very integral to what we have done."

Wood, who looked exhausted long before the end of the third Test, drops out despite an impressive new-ball spell which accounted for the otherwise prolific Yashasvi Jaiswal in the first innings in Rajkot.

"You look at the player Mark is, especially with the ball, you want someone like that operating at 100 per cent," added Stokes. "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. Bringing Robbo in gives us good options, especially looking at this wicket.


Ollie Robinson is braced for his first appearance of the tour (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

"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."

The surface, the like of which Stokes says he has never seen before, is expected to turn from early in the game.

There are cracks, too, which could cause some variable bounce. In Robinson, a seamer with a high action, England will hope they have the bowler to exploit them. Shoaib, meanwhile, returns on a surface which should offer him significant assistance.

Speaking to the BBC, Stokes explained: "I don’t like to look for too much detail. You want to have come indication of what it will play like, because that’s how you pick the XI.

"There is going to be assistance for the spinners, but also the seam because of the dryness and cracks in the wicket. The way in which Jimmy and Robbo (Robinson) operate, zoning in on an area consistently, Robbo's release point, I think we’re giving ourselves a good chance if it is spinning, we also have the chance to take wickets with the quick bowlers is there is some variable bounce."


England expect the Ranchi pitch to provide assistance to both seamer and spinners (TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images)

Rehan could count himself a little unfortunate. He has claimed 11 wickets across the first three Tests and bowled with improved control in Rajkot. Those wickets are coming at a cost of 44 apiece, though, and, averaging 12.66 with the bat, is not scoring the runs required to compensate.

"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," said Stokes on the Leicestershire legspinner.

"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 number 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.

England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes(c), Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson, Shoaib Bashir

The Cricketer's chief correspondent George Dobell will be providing a full preview ahead of the fourth Test in Ranchi.

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