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England chooses lone spinner Rashid vs India in 1,000th test

July 31, 2018
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India captain Virat Kohli pauses during a media event at Edgbaston a day ahead of the 1st test cricket match between England and India, at Edgbaston, in Birmingham, England, Tuesday July 31, 2018. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — England is going into its 1,000th cricket test match with Adil Rashid as its lone frontline spinner and Jos Buttler as vice-captain for the five-game series against India.

The first test starts Wednesday at Edgbaston.

“Looking at the surface, we’ve decided we only want to go with one spinner, and that’s going to be Adil,” England captain Joe Root said Tuesday.

“With the amount of right-handers in what we think is going to be India’s team, he gives us a very attacking option.”

Leg-spinner Rashid will earn his 11th test cap — and the first on home soil. Fellow spinner Moeen Ali misses out.

While Virat Kohli’s top-ranked India is often more comfortable with spin, the tourists have toiled on England’s greentop pitches which can offer more of a seam and swing threat.

India lost the past two test series in England in 2011 and 2014, and last won in 2007. However, the series could be closely fought if the Twenty20 and ODI contests in July are anything to go by.

India won the T20 series 2-1 before England rallied strongly to win the one-dayers by the same score after losing the first ODI by eight wickets.

The selection of Rashid has proved divisive after he signed a white-ball only deal with Yorkshire earlier this year, with Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott among former Yorkshire and England players critical of the decision.

Rashid last played in a test in December 2016 — against India.

Buttler made a surprise return to the format earlier this summer. He is already deputy to Eoin Morgan in white-ball cricket, and Root looks on the 27-year-old Buttler as a possible future test captain.

“He’s obviously vice-captain of the white-ball side. He thinks extremely well about the game, and has a huge amount of respect within the dressing room,” Root said.

“Looking at very long term, 5 to 10 years, I see him as someone who can really drive this team forward — and I think it’s a great opportunity for him to start doing that now.”

James Anderson has assisted Root since the start of the last Ashes series after Ben Stokes was dropped from the role following a late-night incident outside a Bristol nightclub last September.

Stokes’ trial — on a charge of affray — begins on Monday and the all-rounder will miss the second test at Lord’s, which gets underway on Aug. 9.

England announced its selection a day early. Along with Ali, Essex seamer Jamie Porter was the other player to miss out from the 13-man squad, with Surrey left-armer Sam Curran retained.

Kohli plans to shut out the commentary and trust his instincts after struggling on his previous trip to England in 2014, averaging 13.4, compared to his career output of 53.4.

“Back in the day, when I did not know better, these things used to bother me because I used to read a lot,” said the 29-year-old batsman. “But ... I genuinely don’t read anything ... I have no idea what’s going on.

“If I waste my energy on all these things, I’m compromising on my mindset already because when I walk out to bat I have the bat in hand, not people who sit on the outside who write and predict things.”

India will not name its team until Wednesday morning, but is likely to select two spinners from Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav.

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England: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

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