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India v England: England recall Moeen Ali, Sam Curran for fourth Test

England skipper Joe Root announced two changes from the side which lost the third Test to India by 203 runs. Off-spin bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali returns to a venue where his wickets played a crucial part in England beating India on the 2014 tour.

cricket Updated: Aug 29, 2018 22:09 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Southampton
India v England,Moeen Ali,Sam Curran
England's captain Joe Root talks to the media during the nets session at The AGEAS Bowl, Southampton.(AP)

Change will be the key for England as they go into the fourth Test against India aiming to bounce back from the heavy defeat at Trent Bridge and seal the series they lead 2-1 with two games to go.

England skipper Joe Root announced two changes from the side which lost the third Test to India by 203 runs. Off-spin bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali returns to a venue where his wickets played a crucial part in England beating India on the 2014 tour.

Moeen will replace young batsman Ollie Pope and will bat at No 7. All-rounder Sam Curran will return in place of Chris Woakes, who has suffered a recurrence of a quad muscle problem and will sit out.

England will also see changes in the batting order. Jonny Bairstow will cede his wicketkeeping gloves to Jos Buttler and will bat at No 4. Bairstow has been passed fit after suffering a broken left middle finger in Nottingham, but England does not want to risk fresh injury that keeping can cause.

Buttler, who hit a brilliant century in Trent Bridge, will bat at No 6 behind Ben Stokes, whose bowling will be restricted due to a knee problem, which Root gave as an important reason for Curran’s return.

ALSO READ: India vs England: We don’t feel the need to change anything, says Kohli ahead of Southampton Test

The other change England will ring in is switching personnel in the slip cordon, after dropping many catches. While Alastair Cook will stay at first slip, Root will move back from mid-on to second slip and Stokes will be at third slip. That will relieve opener Keaton Jennings of duty in the position after dropping a few of the more than dozen catches that have been put down.

“Jos is going to keep this week. With a slight fracture the safest thing to do is for Jonny to play just as a batter. He will bat at No 4 this week,” Root told a media conference. “He’s (Moeen) in fine form. He’s gone back to his County and, what you want from international players is to go back and sort of prove a point and stand out. That’s exactly what Moeen has done in the last couple of weeks,” he said. Moeen hit a double century and took eight wickets for Worcestershire last week.

Root demanded that his players turn up after the Trent Bridge batting collapses triggered by India’s sharp pace attack. “It’s a big week, no doubt. You can call it momentum or whatever you like. We underperformed last week, that’s the bottom line. And we’ve got a great opportunity to put that right this time around. One of our big strengths as a squad is our strength of character and, at home in particular, we’re very good at bouncing back from difficult weeks. We’ve done it time and time again before. And I don’t expect anything less form the group this time as well.”

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 22:09 IST