England coach Chris Silverwood is confident that Moeen Ali will be fit to play the first Test against India in Chennai. The update comes as positive news for England fans, after the player missed the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.
Moeen Ali had to miss the games against Sri Lanka after contracting the new UK strain of COVID-19. The all-rounder went into extended quarantine after testing positive on arrival. He suffered from mild symptoms and was advised to sit out the entire series.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo in Galle before flying to India, the England coach said that Moeen Ali should be back for the start of the India-England series.
"Moeen should be available for the first Test, too. He's been through everything he needs to go through and is progressing nicely," Silverwood said.
The 33-year-old could play a big part against India if selected. His inclusion will help England strengthen their batting, while continuing to operate with two spinners.
Moeen Ali could replace Dominic Bess as the off-spinning all-rounder in the side, with the Chennai track set to assist spinners. He could also replace Sam Curran, with the all-rounder rested for the first two Tests against India.
Moeen Ali’s solid record on Indian soil also makes him an enticing bet for England. In five matches, the England all-rounder has scored 381 runs at an average of 42.33.
He has also picked up 10 wickets, as his off-spin has troubled Indian batsman in the past.
England set to welcome Ollie Pope back as well
Another welcome news for England is the potential return of Ollie Pope.
The batsman travelled to Sri Lanka and even took part in the warm-up game before the Tests began. However, that was the only appearance Pope made, as he continued to recover from a shoulder injury.
The youngster is not a part of the squad for the first two Tests against India. Ollie Pope will be added to the list provided he can prove his fitness after arriving in the sub-continent nation.
Chris Silverwood provided an update on him as well, and hinted that he may be part of the squad in Chennai.
"I'm hoping Ollie will be able to throw his hat in the ring for that first Test. The sooner we can get him back the better it is for us,” Silverwood added.
Ollie Pope’s inclusion will give England some much needed options when it comes to their batting. With Jonny Bairstow unavailable, Pope could compete with other English batters for the specialist batsman role.