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News

Robinson, Bashir recalled for Ranchi Test, Wood and Rehan miss out

England make two changes for must-win fourth Test in wake of 434-run loss in Rajkot

Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir will play the fourth Test against India as England roll the dice in this must-win game on a cracked Ranchi pitch. The pair, who will replace Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed, are the only changes from the 434-run defeat against India in Rajkot, which leaves England 2-1 down, desperate to keep this five-match series alive.
Robinson will play his first Test in India, returning to the side for the first time since suffering a back spasm in the first innings of the third Ashes Test last July, which was also his last competitive match. He will line up alongside James Anderson, who pulled up well after bowling 38 overs in the third Test at Rajkot, with match figures of 1 for 139.
Somerset offspinner Bashir has also been chosen ahead of Rehan, who is the team's second-highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets at 44 from three matches. The 19-year-old Rehan has bowled valiantly, but found himself targeted by India's batters - primarily Yashasvi Jaiswal - in the second innings at Rajkot, returning 1 for 108 from 25 overs.
The decision to opt for the high-actioned finger-spin of Bashir rather than stick with Rehan's wrist-spin reflects England's impression of what Stokes described as an "interesting" surface, which they believe will contribute to a fast-moving, spin-friendly game. Surrey's Dan Lawrence was also considered for Bashir's spot, offering part-time off-spin while reinforcing the batting.
Instead, Bashir will join Tom Hartley and Joe Root as a slow-bowling trio. Bashir made his debut in the second Test at Visakhapatnam, taking 3 for 138 and 1 for 58 in the match, after visa issues forced him to miss the series opener in Hyderabad.
"We do like to look at the pitch two days out and one day out, because that's how we like to pick our XIs," Stokes explained of Bashir's selection. "You want to give yourself some idea or some indication about what XI you think is going to give you the best chance. Looking at that, I think there is going to be assistance for spin, but I think also it looks like someone like Bash, who releases the ball from such a high release point, the extra bounce that he gets we feel is going to bring us more into the game."
This will be Robinson's 20th cap, and his selection is a show of faith in the 30-year-old. Despite 76 dismissals at an average of 22.21, he has constantly faced questions about his fitness and ability to bowl multiple spells across the full duration of a Test match, at a consistently challenging pace. Having worked hard to improve his fitness over the last nine months, he has the chance to restate his worth as a Test bowler when England need him most.
"I'm really excited for him to get his go," Stokes said. "He's been an incredible professional, the way in which he's operated. Not playing the first three games is extremely disappointing, especially for someone who has played such a vital role over the past two years. The way he kept everything going, going and going through the obvious disappointment of not playing is a great way to operate. Now the chance is here. He has done everything he has needed to and I'm really looking forward to seeing him out on the park again."
He will play alongside the veteran Anderson, who had been considered as one of the likelier bowlers to make way, following his heavy workload in Rajkot and the short turnaround between matches. He currently has six wickets at 35.83 in his two appearances to date. But Stokes has backed the 41-year-old, who is currently sitting on 696 career dismissals, to lead the line once more.
"If you're a young fast bowler, Jimmy Anderson is the one person who you want as your role model. Not only the amount of wickets he's got but the fact he can keep going at his age. Backing a very high-workload Test match in five days, being fit and raring to go, and feeling as fresh as a fiddle. Jimmy's wickets, his longevity and his age, he's an unbelievable role model to all young kids out there who want to be a fast bowler when they grow up.
"The way in which over the last two years he's introduced new ways of operating; you've seen him commit to bowling bouncers, bowling around the wicket to right-handers, use his skills when the conditions need that. Even saying he's approaching 700 Test wickets as a fast bowler is incredible. I think he'll know that, but I don't think that will be at the top of his mind for this week, just because of where we're at in the series."
England: 1⁠ Zak ⁠Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Tom Hartley, 9 Ollie Robinson, 10 James Anderson, 11 Shoaib Bashir

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo