England vs India: Ollie Pope ruled out of the first Test, Jonny Bairstow to replace him

Ollie Pope has been in brilliant form with the bat in hand.

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Ollie Pope
Ollie Pope of England walks from the pavilion. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

England middle-order batter Ollie Pope has been ruled out of the first of the five-match Test series against India due to thigh strain. The first match is scheduled to begin on August 4 and, this news does not augur well for the home side. Pope was expected to bat at number six in the Trent Bridge Test but now will miss out.

England wicketkeeper-batter Jonny Bairstow will replace Pope in the XI and will most probably slot in the middle-order position. Bairstow is not in good form recently in red-ball format, as he has been struggling to get good scores under his belt. With Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer already missing out, Pope’s injury at the wrong time is a cause of concern for the management.

Pope has been in good form for his team in the county circuit. The right-hand batter is also known to be a good player of spin and would have been useful in dealing with Ravi Ashwin. A report in The Telegraph said that the batter failed to prove his fitness in the nets and hence the ECB decided to bring in Bairstow instead of Pope.

Bairstow is having his own struggles in Test cricket as registered three ducks in the four innings during his team’s Test tour to India earlier this year. The Indian spinners repeatedly got the better of the right-hander and exposed his weaknesses.

Joe Root is confident of winning the Test series without Ben Stokes

Meanwhile, England Test skipper Joe Root is optimistic about winning the series against India without talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes. The 30-year-old announced he won’t be playing the series due to mental health issues, But Root feels it is a chance for other players to step up and be counted.

“In my opinion, there is no one who compares to Ben Stokes in world cricket. For a long time, he has very much been the heartbeat of this team. But that does present opportunities for others to step up and put a big performance. We have seen in the past the guys have been able to manage that. There have been times when we have been without Ben, and the likes of Sam Curran and Chris Woakes have come in,” said Root in a pre-match press conference.

“Against India the last series, Chris performed at Lord’s, and Sam throughout that whole series. More recently, at Old Trafford against Pakistan, the partnership between Jos Buttler and Woakes was match-defining. We have found ways to manage to win without Ben. And this is another opportunity for us to try and do that. Hopefully, we can start it this week at Trent Bridge and then take it forward,” he added.

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