Mark Wood returns in place of Shoaib Bashir for third Test at Rajkot

Mark Wood has been recalled to England’s attack at the expense of the offspinner Shoaib Bashir, as England confirmed their team for the third Test against India, which gets underway in Rajkot on Thursday.

Wood played as a lone seamer in England’s victory in the first Test at Hyderabad but went wicketless on a surface that did not suit his express pace. However, he has been recalled to partner James Anderson, who impressed with five wickets at Visakhapatnam last week, on a surface that had been more green-tinged in the lead-up to the match.

He is the only change to the starting XI, with Bashir sitting out after claiming four wickets on debut in the second Test. It means that England will be playing two seamers for the first time in the series, after fielding a spin-dominant attack in each of the last two matches.

Rehan Ahmed’s participation in this match had been in some doubt after he encountered visa issues on his return to India, following the team’s mid-series break in Abu Dhabi. However, that issue has been resolved.

Stokes confirmed England were under no doubt that Rehan’s paperwork would be authorised in time for the third Test, and has backed the 19-year-old legspinner to pick up where he left off from the first two.

“It’s always an anxious period but thankfully we’ve got it through this morning. First of all, the guys at the airport did a great job at giving him his visa initially to get through and then everyone at the BCCI and the government to get the visa through quickly. We don’t have to worry about any more of those issues.

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“We were very confident we would get the visa for Rehan before the game started. There was no thoughts around not playing him this week. The great thing about youth is they just take everything in their stride and I thought he handled a situation that could have affected quite a lot of people in a different way very, very well for such a young kid.

“The Test matches he’s played so far, he’s done very, very well and everything we’ve asked of him he’s gone out and tried to deliver. I’m looking forward to him getting another game this week.”

Having gone into Wednesday with 12 names, Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum decided on the extra seamer in Wood after one last look at the pitch. They were swayed by cracks in the pitch which they believe will lead to uneven bounce as the Test goes on.

“I know it was a very long time ago when we played here, but it looks a good wicket,” Stokes said. “Yesterday it actually looked quite English. It’s a little bit different today. We weren’t quite sure what we were going to do with the team but today made us realise that we are definitely going to go with two seamers.

“It just looks a good wicket. It’s a bit platey. Over the five days, those plates might become a little but uneven. There might be some reverse swing which brings Woody into the game – and Jimmy as well.”

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

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