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The second Test match between India and England in Visakhapatnam is poised to be a challenging one for the visitors as they face the absence of their seasoned spinner, Jack Leach. The experienced campaigner has been ruled out due to a knee injury, leaving the England camp to explore other options.

Among the discussions, the spotlight now falls on the young and talented Shoaib Bashir, whose controversial arrival in India has added an extra layer of intrigue to the upcoming match.

The Jack Leach setback

Leach’s absence comes as a blow to England’s spin department, considering his wealth of experience with over 36 Test matches under his belt. The left-arm spinner had displayed great resilience during the first Test in Hyderabad despite his injury struggles and managed to secure a crucial wicket in the fourth innings by dismissing Shreyas Iyer. However, the knee injury has forced Leach to sit out the upcoming match, leaving the team to ponder over a suitable replacement.

Also READ: Anil Kumble gives India crucial tip after Brendon McCullum’s all-spin attack hint ahead of 2nd Test

Ben Stokes clears his intentions about Shoaib Bashir’s debut

Addressing the speculation surrounding Bashir’s potential inclusion in the playing eleven, England’s skipper Ben Stokes shed light on the team’s thought process. Stokes, along with head coach Brendon McCullum and vice-captain Ollie Pope, discussed the possibility of Bashir taking Leach’s place. Stokes emphasized that Bashir was not brought to India merely for the experience but as a genuine option if the team needed to turn to him.

“Myself, Baz [Brendon McCullum] and Popey [vice-captain Ollie Pope] will probably have a longer think about it. We looked at the wicket; I gave it a tap, and a play-around to make it look like I knew what I was doing. Bash is in the squad, we haven’t brought him here to have an experience. If we feel we want to turn to him, we will,” Stokes told the reporters.

Bashir’s controversial arrival

Adding an intriguing backdrop to the discussions is Bashir’s controversial arrival in India. The cricketer faced Visa delays, leading to a heated debate and eventual intervention by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The England Cricket Board (ECB) had to follow the official procedure, resulting in Bashir’s temporary return to the UK. The saga sparked discontent not only from within the England camp but also drew attention from the international cricket community, with Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja’s wife Rachel expressing her dissatisfaction over the issue.

Also READ: England spinner Tom Hartley’s father unveils his son’s frightening experience before Day 4 heroics against India in 1st Test


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