Ollie Robinson makes way for Mark Wood as England retain two spinners

England have opted against reinforcing their seam-bowling contingent for the fifth Test against India in Dharamsala, and have named an XI featuring just one change – Mark Wood for Ollie Robinson – from the side that lost by five wickets in Ranchi last month.
The talk in the lead-up to the Test had centred around the likelihood that England would play at least one extra seamer, given the cold conditions anticipated in Dharamsala, and the fact that the surface for this match is the same as was used when all 36 wickets fell to seam in a recent Ranji Trophy match between Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.
However, following a final inspection of the wicket, carried out by the management team of Ben Stokes, Brendon McCullum, Marcus Trescothick and Jeetan Patel, England have opted to retain the balance that kept them competitive in Ranchi, with Shoaib Bashir’s offspin retained alongside Tom Hartley’s left-arm spin.

That is despite a cut to Bashir’s spinning finger that he sustained in the course of his 70-over workload in the fourth Test, but which England do not believe will hinder him unduly. Neither he nor Robinson trained on Wednesday, due to stomach complaints.

Robinson’s omission comes after a fallow performance in the fourth Test, in which he suffered a back strain while batting in England’s first innings and was not used at all in India’s successful run-chase. He makes way for Wood, England’s fastest bowler, who was rested in Ranchi after a heavy workload at Rajkot.

The absence of a specialist third seamer could hint at a return to bowling fitness for England’s captain, Stokes, who has been increasing his workloads in the nets on this tour, having undergone knee surgery over the winter.

England’s attack will once again be led by James Anderson, who will be playing his fourth consecutive match of the tour at the age of 41, and who needs two more wickets to reach 700 in Tests.

England XI 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Tom Hartley, 9 Mark Wood, 10 James Anderson, 11 Shoaib Bashir

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