England bat, both sides pick three spinners

Toss England chose to bat v India
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Kalra: Big opportunity for Mishra

On a morning of uncertainty in the world and in India, the near certainty that was Virat Kohli’s luck at the toss was breached, following which Alastair Cook chose to bat on a Rajkot pitch that didn’t look alarming but was expected to turn sooner rather than later.

England gave a debut to Haseeb Hameed, who has roots in Gujarat and already has earned the moniker Baby Boycott. He will be the youngest debutant opener for England. They played three spinners, one of each variety: offspinner Moeen Ali, legspinner Adil Rashid and left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari. The three quick bowlers were Stuart Broad, who was playing his 100th Test, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes.

That most of these bowlers can bat gave Cook the luxury of having six of them. That most of these bowlers can bat played a part in Kohli’s selection of an extra bowler in his XI. After India went with a two-spinner-two-seamer composition against New Zealand, they now brought a third spinner in, the legspinner Amit Mishra, who was the Man of the Series in the ODIs against New Zealand. Umesh Yadav retained his spot ahead of the returning Ishant Sharma.

In the last 15 Tests in Asia, only once had a visiting side won the toss. That was England when they went on to beat Bangladesh in Chittagong. Only one of these 15 Tests was won by a side that lost the toss, West Indies against Pakistan in Sharjah.

England 1 Alastair Cook (capt.), 2 Haseeb Hameed, 3 Joe Root, 4 Ben Duckett, 5 Moeen Ali, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 Zafar Ansari

India 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt.), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 R Ashwin, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Umesh Yadav

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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