Cook, Haseeb ready for England – if series starts in India
RAJKOT, India (AP) Alastair Cook is on the cusp of a test record as England captain. Hameed Haseeb is on the precipice of a test debut.
If the India vs. England test series starts Wednesday, those milestones will go into the records. There's no guarantee the series will start as scheduled, though, because of a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the country's Supreme Court.
The BCCI filed a late plea in the Supreme Court to release funds for hosting this five-test series, arguing the reformation process of the cricket committee as directed from the Justice Lodha committee has prevented it from fully underwriting the tour.
Indian cricket has been in turmoil since a ruling by the Supreme Court into the domestic administration of the game. The BCCI was asked to submit an affidavit stating that it will fully comply with the recommendations made by the Lodha committee before a three-test series against New Zealand last month.
That didn't happen, but the three tests and five limited-overs internationals proceeded as scheduled.
Since then, the Lodha committee has become more stringent and put a stop to funds distributed by the Indian board to its state associations until they comply fully with the reforms.
BCCI president Anurag Thakur submitted an affidavit this week but it stated the inability of the board and its state associations to fully comply with all recommendations
So, on the eve of the test series, the legal move by the BCCI is perceived as an attempt to push the reform-driving Lodha committee onto the back foot.
In just about every other way, preparations for the very first test at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium were complete before the court hearing on Tuesday.
England is coming off an embarrassing loss in Bangladesh, but skipper Cook is aiming for yet another records. Already the most capped player for England (135 caps), and the leading test scorer (10,688 runs), he will break the record he shares with Mike Atherton as England test captain when he leads the team for the 55th time.
He has already said 19-year-old Haseeb will make his debut at the expense of Gary Ballance, making him the youngest opening partner Cook has ever had.
''It is time to give a young guy his opportunity,'' Cook said Tuesday. ''Haseeb hasn't been overawed during his time so far with this squad. He is a natural run-scorer and looks to be more experienced than his age suggests.''
The inclusion of Haseeb would push Ben Duckett down to No. 4. The bowling attack will also be overhauled. James Anderson has re-joined the England squad but is unavailable for selection. That leaves Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes to lead the pace attack, while Moeen Ali could share the spin duties with recalled Gareth Batty and Adil Rashid.
England is the only foreign team to win a test series on Indian soil – in 2012-13 – since Australia in 2004-05, and has beaten India in three consecutive series.
''We can only look forward to what we can do in the future,'' India skipper Virat Kohli said. ''We want to win series, and we want to win test matches.''
The Indian skipper didn't reveal his playing XI, though he doesn't have many tough decisions to make.
Gautam Gambhir is expected to open with Murali Vijay, while the only ponderous thought would be over the make-up of the bowling attack.
Ishant Sharma is fit and for selection, while Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami are back after being rested for the ODIs against New Zealand.
India opted for a four-bowler attack during the New Zealand test series, and could aim to do the same again. If that's the case, Karun Nair could make his debut and bat at No. 6.
One of the most significant selections of the series will be the use of DRS for the first time in a test series on Indian soil.
The adoption of the Decision Review System, using technology to review umpiring decisions, marks a new chapter of uniformity in test cricket across the world.