New-look England try to do without Stokes

LONDON: England will be without Ben Stokes while India could make changes too for the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday.
Stokes played a starring role in England’s 31-run win in the first Test of a five-match series at Edgbaston last week, including taking the wicket of India captain Virat Kohli, who had been anchoring the tourists’ run-chase. But Stokes was omitted by England because he is in court this week on a criminal charge of affray.
Fellow pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes has been called up in his place to the England squad, with uncapped Surrey batsman Ollie Pope selected instead of Dawid Malan, dropped after a run of low scores.
But in a dry English summer that has seen pitches more receptive to slow bowling than usual, England could recall off-spinner Moeen Ali to partner leg-break bowler Adil Rashid even though England captain Joe Root bowls occasional off-breaks. Root confirmed on Wednesday that Pope would bat at number four but that England would delay a decision on whether to play Ali or Woakes instead of Stokes until the morning of the match, with the uncapped Jamie Porter released from the 13-man squad.
“Ollie Pope will come in and bat at four,” said Root.
That England won their 1,000th Test owed much to Pope’s fellow 20-year-old Surrey rising star Sam Curran.
As well as taking five wickets in his main role as a left-arm swing bowler, Curran’s sparkling second-innings 63, his maiden Test fifty, enabled England to set India a tricky target of 194.
‘Tough choice’
India too could make a top-order change with the experienced Cheteshwar Pujara waiting in the wings if struggling opener Shikhar Dhawan is omitted.
They also have the option of playing a second-spinner, be it orthodox left-armer Ravindra Jadeja or left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya the man most likely to miss out if either slow bowler is selected.
“It’s a good choice, a tough one too,” Bharat Arun, India’s bowling coach, told reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday.
“We really need to look at any change in strategy, depending on the wicket.”
— AFP