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England hint at all-spin attack as depleted India look to level series

VISAKHAPATNAM: Ben Stokes’ England side could go with an all-spin bowling attack against an inexperienced India batting line-up when the second Test begins in Visakhapatnam on Friday.

Rohit Sharma’s side suffered only their fourth home defeat in 47 Tests since 2013 last week in Hyderabad as England came from 190 runs behind on first innings to record a stunning 28-run victory.

India will be without seasoned Test players Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja as they attempt to level the five-match series on a pitch that is expected to turn sharply from the start.

They have brought in uncapped batsmen Rajat Patidar and Sarfaraz Khan to replace the injured Rahul and Kohli, who opted out of the first two Tests for personal reasons.

Spinner Washington Sundar comes into the squad for Jadeja.

England’s uncapped spinner Shoaib Bashir finally joined his England teammates on Sunday after a visa delay.

Coach Brendon McCullum hinted Bashir could start if England go “quids-in” with a four-pronged spin attack.

“We won’t be afraid to play all our spinners,” New Zealander McCullum told SEN Radio as England look to extend their series lead to 2-0.

Left-arm spinner Tom Hartley took nine wickets on debut in Hyderabad but lone pace spearhead Mark Wood toiled for 25 wicketless overs meaning Bashir “comes into the calculations,” said McCullum.

“We’ll have a look at conditions and make a call. You’re not going to get every call right, especially over here,” he added.

Slow bowlers accounted for 18 of India’s 20 wickets in the first Test, the other two were run-outs, and England will decide their line-up after assessing conditions in the southern city.

“It’s hard to read some of the wickets but we’ll make a decision and go quids-in on trying to commit to that.

Then we’ll see where we land,“ said McCullum.

‘Line-up looks weak’

“Baz” McCullum and skipper Stokes have led a huge turnaround for England’s fortunes with 14 wins in 19 Tests on the back of a swashbuckling style of play dubbed “Bazball”.

Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh warned that India’s lack of Test batting experience was a worry.

“Yes, there is Rohit Sharma, but the next best run-scorer is (Ravichandran) Ashwin,” he said on his YouTube commentary channel.

“In terms of batting, the line-up looks weak,” he added, saying that a tricky spinning pitch could work against the hosts.

“This batting unit is young, they need time, and if they get a good track, they might even perform well,” he said.

England’s Ollie Pope demonstrated how to handle conditions in the second innings in Hyderabad with an outstanding 196 to turn the game on its head.

Pope’s 112-run sixth-wicket stand with wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes, who made 34, was peppered with sweep shots both sides of the wicket that blunted the Indian spin attack.

“Quite a few of the lads have a game plan that will do well on those pitches,” said Foakes.

“Before there was a fear of getting out and that put us in our shells.

“Accepting that you probably are (going to get out) on those sorts of surfaces, you can actually go and dominate at times as well.”

India have been unbeaten in a home Test series since England, under Alastair Cook, won in 2012.

On England’s last tour three years ago, India recovered from losing the first Test to take the four-match series 3-1.