England skipper Joe Root put the decision to include Adil Rashid in England’s first Test XI for the India series down to the tourists right-hand dominance.
With Shikhar Dhawan not certain to play against England and no other top-order left-handers in the squad barring Rishabh Pant, at Edgbaston Root felt that Moeen Ali’s off-spin would be of less use than the leggies of Rashid.
The decision to recall white-ball specialist Rashid to the team has angered some while others see it as a pragmatic tactical solution.
Former England Test skipper Geoffrey Boycott was among those who questioned the commitment of Rashid.
“He should never have been handed a Test recall,” insisted Boycott.
“In two years England have gone around in a circle. By picking Rashid, they are selecting the unselectable: a player who will not play four-day Championship cricket for Yorkshire because his heart is not in it, but he will play for England in Test matches. Absurd? Yes.”
The skipper though has no issue with Rashid’s commitment and backed his county teammate to have an impact against an Indian batting lineup made up almost entirely of right-handed batsmen.
Speaking at the team announcement in Birmingham Root said: “With the amount of right handers in India’s team, Rashid gives us a really attacking spinning option and he’s in confident form.
“He’s gone about his business just as he does in the one-day side, he doesn’t seem affected at all.
“I’ve known Adil for a long time. I think he’s grown as a player massively in the last couple of years, he has a better understanding of what he wants to do.”
Root hinted that Jos Buttler’s elevation to vice-captain has to do with the long-term vision for the leadership of the limited overs sides after Eoin Morgan hangs up his boots.
He said: “Jos is vice-captain of the white-ball side, thinks hugely about the game and is respected in the dressing room.
“We are thinking about the long-term and Jos is a big part of that.”
India moved to the brink of a 3-0 series whitewash as South Africa’s batting woes continued on the third day of the final Test in Ranchi.
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