Players to watch in India's test series against England


FILE PHOTO: Cricket - England v India - Fourth Test - Ageas Bowl, West End, Britain - August 30, 2018 India's Rishabh Pant looks dejected Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File Photo

(Reuters) - Six players to watch when India host England in a four-match test series which begins on Feb. 5:

INDIA

RISHABH PANT

If there were any doubts about whether Pant was ready for a regular run in the test side, they were wiped out after his series-clinching performance in Australia.

The diminutive but fearless left-hander was unlucky to miss out on two centuries but his unbeaten 89 in the fourth innings chasing 328 in the decider at the Gabba helped catapult him to 13 in the world batting rankings, the highest-ranked wicketkeeper.

Should the technically superior Wriddhiman Saha get the nod for keeping wickets, the 23-year-old Pant appears to have done enough to earn his place in the side as a specialist batsman.

SHUBMAN GILL

Two fifties in Gill's debut series against Australia's attack, including an elegant 91 at the Gabba, have given an indication that he could be the answer to India's opening woes in the long run.

The assured 21-year-old looked at home against the short ball that has long troubled Indian openers in the past and he could cement his position at the top of the order if he continues to deliver on home soil.

RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN

England will be relieved to see the wily Ravindra Jadeja miss the first two tests with injury but will be wary of Ashwin leading the spin attack after the off-spinner claimed a series-high 28 wickets when England last toured India in 2016.

The first two tests are also on his home track in Chennai, where he picked up 12 wickets in a match against Australia in 2013.

Ashwin missed the Gabba test with a back injury after a heroic batting effort in Sydney to force a draw and India can count on the veteran player to provide batting depth.

ENGLAND

JOFRA ARCHER

After being rested for England's tour of Sri Lanka, Archer returns to the test side for the first time since their home summer where the 25-year-old was underwhelming and hit the headlines for breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Archer can trouble any top order with his searing pace and bounce. The Barbados-born quick has no experience bowling with the red ball on sub-continental pitches but is familiar with the conditions following his Indian Premier League stints.

BEN STOKES

Stokes returns to the side after a period of rest and he will look to build on his successful home summer during which he top-scored with 363 runs in five innings in the series against the West Indies.

Stokes, who is no stranger to Indian conditions having played in the Indian Premier League, is the world number one all-rounder and will be hungry for revenge after England were convincingly beaten 4-0 on his last visit in 2016.

RORY BURNS

The England opener has not had the best preparation going into the India tour having skipped the Sri Lanka series to attend the birth of his child, but he could reclaim his spot following Zak Crawley's struggles.

Crawley managed only 35 runs in four innings against an inexperienced Sri Lankan attack and Burns opening the batting alongside Dom Sibley gives England a better chance of unsettling India's formidable pace attack with a left-right combination.

(Compiled by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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