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Uncapped spinners Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir included in England’s Test squad for India tour


London, Dec 11 (IANS) Uncapped spinners Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir have been named in England’s 16-member squad for a five-match Test tour of India starting next month. The off-spin duo joined fast-bowler Gus Atkinson as the three uncapped players at the Test level, though he and Hartley have been capped in white-ball cricket.Skipper Ben Stokes has been included in the squad, though the all-rounder underwent surgery on his left knee last month. Ben Foakes also returns after being dropped for the Ashes this year, while Jack Leach and Ollie Pope are back after recovering from back and shoulder injuries.Teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed returns to the Test squad after claiming a five-wicket haul on his debut in Pakistan last year. He will be amongst the front-line spin options alongside Bashir, Leach and Hartley.Bashir made his First-Class debut at 19 this year in June, facing a baptism of fire against Sir Alastair Cook at Chelmsford. Though he was wicketless on Day One for Somerset, his control and temperament impressed onlookers, including the England scouts.Subsequent performances, like taking 10 wickets in six First-Class games, earned Bashir a call-up to England Lions’ recent training camp in the UAE, where Hartley was included too. Bashir took 10 wickets in the County Championship last season, though the trouble he caused experienced batters has outweighed the impact he had in the wicket column.He recently took 6-42 in a three-day fixture against Afghanistan ‘A’ side. On the other hand, Hartley, who has played two ODIs for England, has taken 40 wickets in First-Class cricket for Lancashire at an average of 36.57. But England have brought in with a belief that he will be able to replicate what Axar Patel did for India in the 2021 series, where the hosts won 3-1.England’s fast-bowling department includes Atkinson, James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, and Mark Wood. Atkinson claimed 20 wickets in five County Championship matches last summer at an average of 20.20 as Surrey claimed back-to-back titles.England are expected to hold a preparatory camp in the UAE next month, before landing in India to kick off the Test series in Hyderabad on January 25, followed by matches in Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamshala. An England Lions squad will also be playing matches against India ‘A’ team on the sidelines of the Test series, though the squad for that is yet to be named.England Test squad: Ben Stokes (captain), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Shoaib Bashir, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root and Mark Wood–IANSnr/bsk/

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