England to remain aggressive v India – Stokes



Joe Root (left) and Virat Kohli (right) during the toss at The Oval
Joe Root (left) and Virat Kohli (right) have relinquished the England and India captaincies since the series started last summer
Venue: edgbaston Dates: 1-5 July Time: 10:30 BST
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary, text commentary and in-play highlights on BBC Sport website and app. Daily highlights at 19:00 on BBC Four.

England will try to “operate in the same way” as they have this summer in the rearranged fifth Test against India, says captain Ben Stokes.

It was part of a run that saw England win one Test in 17, but they go into the match, which starts on Friday at Edgbaston, having beaten New Zealand 3-0 under Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

“It is a bit strange,” said Stokes.

“It is different opposition but I made it very clear after the New Zealand series how we’re going to do things and we’re going to go out there and try to operate in the same way.”

England have taken an aggressive approach under Stokes and McCullum, completing chases of 277, 299 and 296 with relative ease to clean sweep world Test champions New Zealand.

Speaking to BBC Test Match Special, Stokes added: “I know the bigger picture of it – trying to draw a series – but every game for me, so early on in my captaincy and trying to rebuild this team, is bigger than results.

“It is bigger than that – it is about Test cricket.”

England have made two changes from the seven-wicket win over New Zealand at Headingley, with pace bowler James Anderson replacing Jamie Overton and wicketkeeper Sam Billings – who was a Covid replacement for Ben Foakes during the third Test – keeping the gloves.

Foakes, who was also not able to keep on day three because of a back injury, has not recovered as well as England would have liked.

“Foakes doesn’t feel like he could give the best account of himself this week,” said Stokes.

“We took the decision out of his hands and said, ‘Get yourself better’.”

Jonny Bairstow, who hit two fine centuries in the New Zealand series, took the gloves when Foakes was off on day three but Stokes said England want him to just “concentrate on batting”.

“Jonny is in the form of his life – he’s our best middle-order batter at the moment,” he added.

The team is set to feature seven changes from the fourth Test of the original series against India, which the tourists won by 157 runs at The Oval.

India are yet to announce their team, but have doubts over captain and opener Rohit Sharma, who tested positive for Covid last week.

If Rohit is ruled out, vice-captain and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah will lead India.

England XI: Zak Crawley, Alex Lees, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Sam Billings (wk), Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson.



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