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Jennings becomes Cook’s latest partner as England bid to save series

MUMBAI: Keaton Jennings will make his England debut as captain Alastair Cook’s latest opening partner in the fourth and penultimate Test against India at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

Left-hander Jennings will replace teenager Haseeb Hameed, who broke his little finger during England’s defeat in the third Test in Mohali and returned home to undergo surgery.

Jennings, the son of South African former wicket-keeper and coach Ray, arrived in India only on Monday after being called up from the England Lions squad in the United Arab Emirates.

“He’s going to play. He’s going to open the batting and another great opportunity for a guy to come in and play,” Cook told reporters, adding he was reminded of his own debut in 2006 when he flew into India 48 hours ahead of the game and hit a century in Nagpur. “He’s in good touch, spending bit of time in the middle with the Lions, getting hundreds and stuff.”

The 24-year-old Jennings, who scored six centuries for county side Durham last season, is Cook’s 11th partner at the top of the order in the game’s longest format since the retirement of Andrew Strauss four years ago.

Cook said the frequent changes of his opening partner did not impact his own batting.

“It doesn’t really affect me,” the 31-year-old said. “You don’t just bat with your opening partner, you bat with people at three, four, five as well.

“I will just make sure Keaton plays the way he wants to play, keep him calm I suppose. Obviously it’s disappointing about Has, we obviously found a player there.”

Fast bowler Stuart Broad, who suffered a foot injury during the second test in Visakhapatnam and subsequently missed the game in Mohali, was still doubtful for the Mumbai match, Cook added.

The Wankhede Stadium, overlooking the Arabian Sea, has been a happy hunting ground for England, who have won their last two Tests against the hosts at the venue in 2012 and 2006.

England made a strong start to the series in Rajkot when they made India fight hard in their second innings to eke out a draw but lost the next two Tests to trail 2-0 against the world’s number one Test side.

They drew lot of flak for defensive batting while chasing an improbable 405 to win the second Test and coach Trevor Bayliss said it was time for the side to show more positive intent.

“It’s a clear message I knew was coming out,” Cook said. “We do have to take that second innings in Vizag out of it, where we played that way.

“But I wonder whether that did kind of tie into the third game and there was a bit of hangover and we did go back into our shells a bit.

“After chatting around a bit I think it was quite clear message that we wanted to play a little bit more aggressively and with a bit more intent.”

India, meanwhile, suffered another blow when middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane was ruled out of the last two Tests with a fractured finger while fast bowler Mohammed Shami was also doubtful for the fourth match.

The 28-year-old Rahane, who has had a modest series so far, was hit by a ball during Wednesday’s practice and sustained an avulsion fracture on his right index finger, the India cricket board said.

Batsman Manish Pandey has replaced Rahane in the squad, with paceman Shardul Thakur named as a back-up for Shami, who has a sore knee and will be assessed before the start of the match.

Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took six wickets in his last Test against New Zealand in September, is expected to start if Shami is ruled out, with opening batsman Lokesh Rahul returning to the side after missing the third Test in Mohali with injury.

Skipper Virat Kohli was confident the replacements would do the job for his team.

“Currently, I’m not really worried because if you see whoever has stepped in has given match-winning performances,” Kohli said. “You speak about Bhuvi, he has come in at St Lucia once and in Kolkata once, and both times he has picked up five wickets and he has been the match winner for us.

“I am not worried because the guys sitting outside are waiting for opportunities.”

Kohli said the break between third and fourth Tests had also been refreshing for his side but added that he would like it to be reciprocated when they tour England next.

“We didn’t ask for the gap, it was part of the schedule,” said the 28-year-old. “Make sure when we go there we also have eight days’ gap after the three Tests and [a] 25-day gap between ODIs and Tests.”

Teams (from):

INDIA: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravichandran Ashwin, Parthiv Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Shardul Thakur.

ENGLAND: Alastair Cook (captain), Keaton Jennings, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett.

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (Australia) and Paul Reiffel (Australia).

TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (South Africa).

Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).

courtesy: dawn news

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