England named only one experienced spinner in the form of Jack Leach for their five-match Test series against India. In the first match, Leach hurt his knee, which ruled him out of the second Test in Visakhapatnam. In his absence, Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed and Shoaib Bashir have done an excellent job, picking up 15 wickets in the match. However, they lacked the experience in the middle, as the hosts won the match by 106 runs.
Meanwhile, there are certain doubts about Leach’s availability for the third Test in Rajkot. As per head coach Brendon McCullum, the 32-year-old is yet to regain fitness as his knee is looking ‘pretty bad’. The former New Zealand international mentioned that Leach’s injury is pretty ‘inflamed’ and he isn’t much sure about the date of his return to the playing XI.
“It is still pretty inflamed, but I don’t really know because he (Jack Leach) has been a crook. His knee is pretty bad though, and it was remarkable he got through what he did in the first Test match,” McCullum told Belfast Telegraph.
Notably, the visitors have flown back to Abu Dhabi after the conclusion of the second Test. McCullum mentioned that the team wanted to stay away from the ‘heat of the battle’, and hence decided to travel to the United Arab Emirates to relax for a while before returning to India for the remaining matches of the series.
Interestingly, the 42-year-old also stated that the England players have not carried their kitbags and will not practice in the UAE. However, they are likely to have gym sessions and fielding drills but a lot depends on the fatigue of the players. On the other hand, Dan Lawrence will be joining Desert Vipers for a couple of games in the ILT20.
He replaced Harry Brook in the squad, after the latter pulled out of the series, citing personal reasons. Meanwhile, as per reports, England will travel to India a couple of days before the third Test, which is slated to begin on February 15.