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England bring in Robinson, Bashir for fourth India Test

30-year-old Robinson last played for England in the third Ashes Test at Headingley in July
England’s Ollie Robinson in action during the Ashes. AFP
England’s Ollie Robinson in action during the Ashes. AFP

Fast bowler Ollie Robinson was named in the England team for the fourth Test against India in Ranchi starting Friday with spinner Shoaib Bashir also getting the nod.

The 30-year-old Robinson last played for England in the third Ashes Test at Headingley in July, where he bowled just 11.2 overs before being sidelined for the remainder of the series with a back spasm.

He replaces Mark Wood, who has played in two of the India Tests, while Bashir comes in for Rehan Ahmed.

The 20-year-old Bashir made his Test debut in the second match against India at Visakhapatnam after missing the opener because of a visa delay.

England suffered a 434-run defeat in the third Test and trail 2-1 in the five-match series.

The pitch in Ranchi is expected to be spin-friendly and England skipper Ben Stokes wants the rookie Bashir, a tall off-spinner, to utilise the conditions to his advantage.

“We do like to look at the pitch two days out and one day out because that’s how we like to pick our XIs,” said Stokes, who a day earlier said he had “never seen anything like” the Ranchi wicket.

The surface appears to have deep cracks down one side but looks flat on the other.

“Someone like Bash, who releases the ball from such a high release point, the extra bounce that he gets we feel is going to bring us more into the game,” said Stokes.

All-rounder Stokes came into the series purely as a batsman after knee surgery last year but he bowled in the nets Wednesday, offering the kind of boost the tourists need after the heavy defeat in the third Test.

He was non-committal on Thursday about the chances of him bowling in Ranchi, saying “maybe, maybe not”.

Anderson ‘raring to go’

Stokes was more effusive on the subject of pace spearhead James Anderson, who will play his second straight match after a break of just five days at the age of 41.

Anderson is four short of 700 Test wickets, but returned with just one wicket in the previous match.

“If you’re a young fast bowler, Jimmy Anderson is the one person who you want as your role model,” Stokes said of the man dubbed the “swing king” for his ability to seam the ball both ways.

“Not only the amount of wickets he’s got but the fact he can keep going at his age,” said Stokes, adding that Anderson was “raring to go and feeling as fresh as a fiddle”.

England have put their weight behind struggling senior batsmen Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root to come good in the final two Tests, with the team’s attacking “Bazball” philosophy under scrutiny like never before.

Bairstow, a solid middle-order batsman set for his 99th Test, has managed just 102 runs so far.

“If batters have a tough time over a short period it will come under scrutiny. 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,” said Stokes.

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

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

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Ollie Robinson

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