Haseeb Hameed has taken a few blows during the series © AFP
England hope that Haseeb Hameed will be able to bat in the second innings at Mohali* but his involvement in the rest of the tour is in doubt, with the severity of his finger injury yet to be determined.
Hameed’s short-term prognosis appeared uncertain when he did not open the batting in England’s second innings. He did not field throughout India’s 138.2-over first innings but, because the injury to the little finger on his left hand was classed as an external blow, he would have been allowed to open. He is set to undergo an X-ray after the match is over but a fracture would likely rule him out of the rest of the series.
During the first part of the third day Hameed had undergone numerous net sessions to test the finger and was reportedly experiencing pain while batting. When England began their second innings after tea it was Joe Root who opened with Alastair Cook. Although another change to England’s opening combination, it was not a new one: Root and Cook opened throughout the 2013 Ashes.
Hameed had enjoyed an impressive start to his Test career after having been overlooked for the two Tests in Bangladesh. He made 82 in the second innings of his Test debut in Rajkot and resisted for 144 balls as England attempted to bat out for a draw in Vizag.
If Hameed’s injury makes him a doubt for the Mumbai Test, which starts on December 8, England may need to consider calling up another batsman to the squad. They have Ben Duckett, who opened in Bangladesh, but he was dropped for Mohali in favour of Jos Buttler, having made 18 runs in three innings during the first two Tests; Gary Ballance is also in the party and could come into the middle order if Root stayed at opener.
Nick Gubbins, the Middlesex left-hander, or Durham’s Keaton Jennings would be candidates as opening batsmen in county cricket while Essex’s Tom Westley could be another option. All three are currently in the UAE as part of the Lions’ winter programme.
A left-field choice, to try and counter India’s spinners, would be Sam Billings, the Kent wicketkeeper-batsman who has played ODI and T20 cricket and is renowned as an excellent player of spin. However, that route would still require looking for another opening solution.
*16.30 GMT: This story was updated
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo