Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns have begun training in India ahead of England’s four-match Test series against Virat Kohli’s side.
All-rounder Stokes, fast bowler Archer and opening batsman Burns missed the recent series win in Sri Lanka – Stokes and Archer were rested and Burns was on paternity leave – so arrived in India before their team-mates.
The trio’s quarantine period is now over and they practised for the first time at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday, the venue for the first two matches of the Test series, which gets under way on Friday.
The rest of the England squad will remain in quarantine until Tuesday and are then scheduled to begin full practice that afternoon before further training sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.
👍 BEN IS BACK! 👍
England's @benstokes38, @JofraArcher & @roryburns17 have trained for first time in Chennai ahead of #INDvENG series, which starts on Friday 🇮🇳🆚🏴
Rest of England squad will train once released from quarantine on Tuesday 🏃
🎬 Vid credit – @englandcricket 🏏
Speaking from his hotel room on Thursday, Burns – who is expected to return at the top of the order for England in Chennai – said: “Me, Jof and Stokesy get a slight head start because of quarantine. I’m looking forward to having a couple of tasty net sessions with those two coming in at me.”
- England head to India for cricket’s toughest test
England are the last team to win a Test series in India, triumphing 2-1 under Sir Alastair Cook in 2012, with Kohli’s side currently on a run of 12 consecutive series victories on home soil.
India have won 28 and lost just one of their previous 34 Tests at home and thumped England 4-0 in late 2016, while they recently won a Test series 2-1 in Australia despite being ravaged by injury and without Kohli for the final three Tests due to paternity leave.
England captain Joe Root, part of the victorious 2012 team under Cook, believes his side “couldn’t be in a better place” to challenge India having overcome Sri Lanka 2-0.
“We have four very important games against arguably the best team in the world in their own conditions,” said Root, whose side have won their last five away Tests – two in Sri Lanka and three in South Africa.
“We are going to have to play right at the top of our game to win but we couldn’t be in a better place to go and challenge them.
“That really excites me and should excite the rest of the group as well. There is so much further this group can go, we just have to stay hungry.”
Sky Sports Cricket expert and former England batsman Mark Butcher believes the absence of India left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for at least the first two Tests due to a fractured thumb is a real boost for the tourists.
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Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya picked up 15 English wickets during the recently-concluded series, dismissing openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley three and four times respectively.
Butcher told Saturday’s Times of India newspaper: “Our batters had problems facing Embuldeniya [so] England will be buoyed by Jadeja’s absence. India possesses a world-class bowling attack but Jadeja adds a different dimension to it.”
Butcher expects Sibley and Crawley to be split up for the India series, with the left-handed Burns opening with Sibley, a move that would allow Crawley to move down the order, probably to No 3.
He added: “Burns and Sibley should be opening in the first Test. A left-right combination is handy and England will want to stick with them. If those two get off to a good start, the rest of the batsmen will gain confidence.”
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