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England in India: Nasser Hussain says uncapped spinner Shoaib Bashir will be in great place to learn during Test tour

Shoaib Bashir one of three uncapped players in squad to tour India next month; England men's managing director Rob Key says Ben Stokes expected to be fit for five-Test series but unlikely to bowl; series starts in Hyderabad on Thursday January 25.

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Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton review England's Test squad selection for the India series as Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir earn call-ups

Uncapped Somerset off-spinner Shoaib Bashir will be in a great place to learn following his surprise inclusion in England's Test squad to tour India, says Sky Sports expert Nasser Hussain.

The 20-year-old, who has featured in six first-class games with 10 wickets to his name, was called 'the stand-out surprise' by former England captain Hussain.

Bashir was included in the 16-player squad on Monday alongside fellow uncapped team-mate Tom Hartley as part of England's four spin options.

They are joined by Jack Leach, who returns to Test cricket after injury ruled him of last summer's Ashes, as well as 19-year-old Rehan Ahmed.

"It's the sort of thing India used to do by picking a young spinner," Hussain said of Bashir's selection.

"The selectors in Ben Stokes, Rob Key and Brendon McCullum have often gone a bit left-field like we saw with Josh Tongue coming in last summer and having an immediate impact.

"Ben Duckett has also been a revelation at the top of the order. It's something this crop of selectors do. They've seen something in the Lions training camp in Abu Dhabi.

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"They could have gone for Will Jacks, the same three spinners they had in Pakistan, but the selectors have given the 20-year-old a chance."

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Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain says exciting young spinner Shoaib Bashir 'will fit in absolutely fine' in the England squad

Hussain added: "What a thrill for him to be picking the brains of Ravi Ashwin and some of the great spinners that have ever played the game. He has fellow Somerset player Jack Leach there too, he'll fit in absolutely fine."

England's Test captain Ben Stokes has been included despite being in rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his left knee in November.

The Test captain has been struggling with the problem for at least 18 months and has had to play as a specialist batter since July, with his body unable to cope with the rigours of bowling.

Stokes suggested he was considering an operation after this summer's Ashes series, but instead chose to come out of ODI retirement and take part in England's World Cup defence in India.

England's Ben Stokes celebrates his first World Cup century against Netherlands
Image: England's Ben Stokes celebrates his first World Cup century against Netherlands

"Stokes is three cricketers in one, he's a batter, a bowler and a captain which makes him a pivotal cricketer, especially in those conditions with his leadership qualities," Hussain said.

"I'm not sure how much Stokes is going to bowl in the future of his career. The reason he had the operation was to help him bowl more, but the last two years he's been hobbling around and to a degree it's affected his batting too.

"We've seen him play certain shots and then collapse. In a five-match Test series in the heat, you can't afford that. Stokes is such a main man for England but they have to learn to live without him."

Lancashire slow left-armer Hartley who is also named in the Test squad has two England ODI caps to his name and has taken 40 first-class wickets.

Tom Hartley featured in England's ODI series against Ireland in September
Image: Tom Hartley featured in England's ODI series against Ireland in September

"I think it could have been Hartley or Liam Dawson. I know Key has been a big fan of both of them over the years," Hussain said.

"I like Hartley as a cricketer because of his height and pace. On a slower turning India pitch sometimes you have to drive the ball in. His stats at Lancashire weren't brilliant, but he bats too."

India remain the No 1 ranked Test team in the world despite losing the World Test Championship final to Australia by 209 runs at The Oval in June.

They are undefeated on home soil since England's 2-1 series victory under Sir Alastair Cook's captaincy in 2012.

"The two hardest jobs in cricket is going to Australia and India. It's the toughest challenge for any cricketer and India have such an incredible team with Rohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Axar Patel," Hussain said.

"England are playing exciting cricket too with this Bazball brand of cricket and it will be a fascinating series."

England will play five Tests with the first getting under way in Hyderabad on Thursday, January 25.

Key: Bashir can become world-class spinner

England men's managing director Rob Key said he has been impressed with Shoaib Bashir's performances in county cricket for Somerset and on the recent England Lions training camp in Abu Dhabi.

"We saw him last summer and you catch a glimpse of a few balls where you think there is something different there," Key said speaking to Sky Sports.

"Bashir is very raw and he's going for experience as much as anything else. We won't be afraid to play him. Hopefully we'll see a world-class spinner in the future.

"Stokes' surgery has been a success but we're not expecting him to bowl. We're confident he will be ready for the first Test. We never had him down to be bowling in India out of injury. It's an ongoing process."

England's Test tour of India fixtures

  • Thursday January 25 - Monday January 29 2024: India vs England (First Test), Hyderabad
  • Friday February 2 - Tuesday February 6 2024: India vs England (Second Test), Visakhapatnam
  • Thursday February 15 - Monday February 19 2024: India vs England (Third Test), Rajkot
  • Friday February 23 - Tuesday February 27 2024: India vs England (Fourth Test), Ranchi
  • Thursday March 7 - Monday March 11 2024: India vs England (Fifth Test), Dharamsala

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