England vice-captain Ben Stokes revealed why the team is playing an extra batsman in place of a pacer in the final Test against India at Ahmedabad. England’s paltry total of 193 runs in the pink-ball Test led them to strengthen their batting lineup for the decisive match in the series.
With their seamers not offering much of a threat, England decided to bench Stuart Broad and opted for specialist batsman Dan Lawrence for the final Test. An injured Jofra Archer also made way for off-spinner all-rounder Dom Bess, who was impressive in the Chennai Test.
During the press conference at the end of the first day’s play, Ben Stokes talked about England's team selection. The Englishman feels including an extra batsman in the squad will prove to be decisive in the second innings when the pitch is more worn out.
“If you look at the scorecard of the last Test match, it will give you all the answers you need. Lengthening the batting line-up was something we took away from the last Test match, having that extra batter if we are facing similar conditions," said Ben Stokes, who top-scored for England with 56.
"We felt that seam isn’t going to offer much in terms of threat. Having an extra batter may help us on a more used pitch in the second innings," Stokes added.
Though Dan Lawrence scored a critical knock of 46 runs at No. 7, England folded for 205 despite playing seven specialist batters.
Spinners will play a key role: Ben Stokes
Dom Bess' addition not only gives England a spin option but further strengthens England’s batting. He claimed four wickets, including the prized scalp of Virat Kohli in England’s win in the Chennai Test.
“We had to play the extra spinner due to the conditions. Adding another all-rounder (Dom Bess) adds to our strength. Jimmy (James Anderson) and I will do more of the holding role as bowlers while Jack Leach and Dom Bess will have a role to play in the game,” added Ben Stokes.
Stokes also confessed that these are the most challenging conditions he has encountered as a batsman in his Test career.
With Ben Stokes being the only pacer in the side apart from James Anderson, the Durham all-rounder will have an important role to play with the ball if the Indian batters capitalise on the surface on Day Two.