England suffers a major blow as key player injured ahead of second Test against India

England. Photo courtesy: X/@ICC

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Hyderabad/IBNS-CMEDIA: Ben Stokes says he is yet to settle on his XI for the crucial clash against India, with an uncapped spinner in contention to replace Jack Leach.

England have suffered a major blow with news that experienced spinner Jack Leach will miss the second Test against India due to injury.

Leach suffered a knee complaint while fielding on the opening day of England’s thrilling 28-run victory over India in the opening Test in Hyderabad, but the left-armer still managed to play out the game and bowl 10 overs during the hosts’ second innings.

England had been hoping that the injury would settle down and Leach would be available for the second Test that commences in Visakhapatnam on Friday, but skipper Ben Stokes revealed the 32-year-old would be forced to sit on the sidelines for the crucial ICC World Test Championship encounter.

“He’s ruled out of the second Test,” Stokes said of Leach.

“Unfortunately, the knock he took resulted in a haematoma in his leg. It’s a big shame for us, a big shame for Jack, obviously after a long time out of the game with his back.

“To sustain that injury, first game back, obviously it’s frustrating. But it’s something we’re assessing every day. The medical team have taken over that, and hopefully, it’s not something that’s too serious and keeps him out for longer in the series.”

England are still yet to finalise the make-up of their XI for the second Test, with young uncapped off-spinner Shoaib Bashir in contention to replace Leach should the tourists look to include another spinner.

They also have the option of calling on veteran seamer James Anderson should conditions suit, with Stokes indicating he would wait until Thursday before deciding his final XI.

Stokes said he was confident Bashir could perform well on debut if he was selected to partner fellow spinners Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley for the second Test.

“If he was to play on this tour, then the great thing he has on his side is, what is there to lose?” Stokes said.

“That is how I will be thinking about it, if he gets the chance to play: just to make sure I can give him the best experience I possibly can. Because you only play your first Test match once. If he does play, then I will be trying to make it as enjoyable and fun for him as I can.

“Myself, Baz (coach Brendon McCullum) and Popey (vice-captain Ollie Pope) will probably have a longer think about it. We looked at the wicket; I gave it a tap, and a play-around to make it look like I knew what I was doing. Bash is in the squad, we haven’t brought him here to have an experience. If we feel we want to turn to him, we will.”

The second Test will begin in Hyderabad on Friday.