England vs India: Saqib Mahmood comes in as cover ahead of Lord's Test, Dom Bess leaves squad

England vs India: Saqib Mahmood comes in as cover ahead of Lord’s Test, Dom Bess leaves squad

Saqib Mahmood is yet to make his Test debut.

Saqib Mahmood of England
Saqib Mahmood of England celebrates. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Fast bowler Saqib Mahmood has been included in England squad taking on India in the ongoing five-match Test series at home. The right-arm pacer has been called as a cover. At the same time, off-spinner Dom Bess leaving the squad and returning to Yorkshire. The reason behind Bess’ exclusion isn’t clear yet and it would be interesting to see if England Cricket Board (ECB) releases a statement regarding the same.

Notably, Bess, a veteran of 14 Tests, didn’t feature in the opening Test at the Trent Bridge in Nottingham. In fact, the Three Lions didn’t field any spinner in their line-up. Moreover, veteran spin-bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali was called back in the squad ahead of the second Test at Lord’s. Hence, it has been speculated that Mahmood replaced Bess to strengthen England’s pace attack. Also, veteran fast bowler Stuart Broad sustained a calf injury ahead of the second Test. This factor also might have inspired Mahmood’s addition.

Mahmood, who’s yet to make his Test debut, is known for his ability to swing the ball at a brisk pace. Nailing yorkers and bouncers isn’t beyond his reach either. The 24-year-old has also done well in the domestic First-Class circuit. Subsequently, the selectors decided him to give a go in the Test team. Notably,  Mahmood has represented England in seven ODIs and nine T20Is, scalping 14 and seven wickets respectively.

Saqib Mahmood unlikely to make debut in Lord’s

However, Test cricket is a different ball game. Moreover, ECB, in a tweet, mentioned that Mahmood has been called as cover. Hence, it’s highly unlikely he’ll take the field in the second Test. Sam Curran, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, and James Anderson formed England’s pace attack in the first Test. Moreover, the likes of Mark Wood and Craig Overton warmed the benches. Hence, Mahmood might have to wait for his chances to shine in England whites.

Meanwhile, the opening Test resulted in a draw all thanks to cricket’s age-old enemy in England, rain. However, it must be noted that India dominated the home team in the contest and were even cruising to victory. The visitors needed 157 runs on the final day with nine wickets in hand. The heaven gates got opened and not a single delivery was bowled on the final day. The second Test gets underway on Thursday (August 12), and both teams will have a point to prove.