England vice-captain Ollie Pope suggests that there is a possibility of playing an additional seamer in the upcoming third Test against India in Rajkot, emphasizing the green grass covering on the pitch. With the series tied at 1-1, England has opted for only one specialist fast bowler in each of the first two Tests.
Pope hinted at the potential inclusion of Mark Wood alongside James Anderson if the conditions favor seam bowling. The final decision will be made based on the pitch conditions, with Pope acknowledging the importance of assessing them on the day before the Test begins.
In the event of an extra seamer being chosen, Mark Wood, who participated fully in training despite strapping on his left leg, is a likely candidate. Ollie Robinson, who had an extended spell in the nets, is another viable option.
The decision could mean one of the young spinners – Rehan Ahmed, Shoaib Bashir, or Tom Hartley – might have to make way. Ahmed faced a visa issue but has entered on a temporary visa, with the correct one expected to be processed in the coming days.
Jack Leach's absence due to a knee injury further depletes England's spin options. On the Indian side, Virat Kohli is still unavailable for personal reasons, and KL Rahul remains injured. Uncapped players Sarfaraz Khan and Devdutt Padikkal are competing for a spot in the middle order.
Meanwhile, England's captain Ben Stokes is set to play his 100th Test in Rajkot, marking a significant milestone in his illustrious career. Stokes' versatility and commitment to every aspect of the game are praised by Pope, highlighting the unpredictability and excellence Stokes brings to each match.