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Pope to debut at four for England in second India Test

Ollie Pope

England v India, second Specsavers Test
Venue: Lord’s Dates: 9-13 August
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Surrey batsman Ollie Pope will make his England debut in the second Test against India at Lord’s on Thursday.

Pope, 20, replaces Dawid Malan and will bat at number four, despite usually batting at six for his county.

England will wait to decide on their final XI, with Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes vying for one spot.

“I’m going to keep our options open and make sure that we’re really confident we’ve got the best 11 players to take 20 wickets,” said captain Joe Root.

England, who have a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, dropped Malan after the thrilling 31-run win at Edgbaston.

Pope’s inclusion means he is the fourth player under the age of 21 to play a Test for England this year, after Mason Crane, Dom Bess and Sam Curran.

He is the second highest run-scorer in Division One of the County Championship, with 684 runs at an average of 85.50.

“We feel he’s got a very good game on him that can transfer into Test cricket and be successful at number four,” Root told BBC Sport.

“I’m really excited to see him go out there and be himself, more than anything else, and go out and play exactly how he has done.”

Woakes or Moeen?

There was still a hint of green on the Lord’s pitch despite the recent hot weather, although it was kept covered for much of Wednesday.

With Ben Stokes absent due to his trial for affray in Bristol, England will have to decide between off-spinner Moeen and all-rounder Woakes to complete the final XI.

Both players could shore up England’s fragile batting – they collapsed twice at Edgbaston, with Root’s 80 in the first innings proving to be the highest score by an England batsman.

However Woakes, who featured against Pakistan at Lord’s in May, has played just two first-class matches since injuring his right quad and thigh in June.

Moeen took eight wickets for Worcestershire in his last first-class game, including a second innings 5-107, but he has struggled for runs since the winter tour of Australia.

Root took a blow to his hand in the nets while facing Woakes but said that he was “absolutely fine” and managed to complete his practice.

“We want to wait and see what it looks like – see if they take any more off that surface and see how dry it is,” Root said.

“We’ll turn up tomorrow, see if it looks any different and then make that decision.”

Root strives for consistency

England have won just four of their past 10 Tests at Lord’s, including their nine-wicket defeat by Pakistan in May.

They have struggled for consistency at home under Root, beating South Africa by 211 runs in the first Test at Lord’s last year before being thrashed in the next match at Trent Bridge by 240 runs.

Root said that England’s tight victory at Edgbaston had “filled me with confidence” as a captain.

“The composure we kept throughout that last morning was outstanding and will hold us in good stead for the rest of the series,” he said.

“It’s about backing that up now and being more consistent in back-to-back games, and now we’ve got an opportunity to do that.”

The hosts also lost to India on a green pitch at Lord’s in 2014, with their batting collapsing on the final day to hand the visitors a 95-run win.

“We still had an opportunity to win that game on the last day and batted poorly,” Root added.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve had a few different surfaces here, so we’ve kept quite an open mind going into tomorrow.

“I thought we performed exceptionally well with the ball last week and that’s a good sign that early in a series.”

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BBC Sport – Cricket

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