Sparks are set to fly tomorrow in Hyderabad as India and England clash in the much-awaited Test series. The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium braces itself for a battle of ideologies: India's formidable home record against England's bold, attacking "Bazball" approach, captivating cricket fans worldwide. The stage is set for a captivating spectacle, where tradition meets innovation, and every session promises a nail-biting contest.
England suffered a crucial setback with the late withdrawal of star batter Harry Brook due to personal reasons. This leaves a gap in their middle order which is likely to be taken by Jonny Bairstow. In the case that Brook that was available, Bairstow would have been in contention for the wicket-keeper's slot alongside Ben Foakes. In English conditions, Jonny Bairstow would likely claim the gloves, but keeping to spinners turning tracks, Ben Foakes would have emerged as a strong contender. However with a vacancy now open, Bairstow is all set to play as a batter and Foakes has been confirmed as the keeper.
"He can do things other keepers can't," Ben Stokes
A magician behind the stumps, Foakes is renowned for his lightning-fast reflexes and ninja-like movements. A few years back, when he had taken the gloves for England on Sri Lanka's turning tracks, his athleticism left fans, media, and pundits alike in awe.
Ahead of the series opener, England skipper Ben Stokes showered heavy praise on Foakes. Stokes highlighted the fact that Foakes possesses a rare ability to make the slightest chances count, which in a series as momentous as this could prove invaluable. "He can not only do things other keepers can't, but also make them look incredibly easy. He's a very special talent behind there and having someone like that who can maybe take a 2%, 3% chance, that could be massive in the series," Stokes said.
With the fate of the series poised on every selection, England's decision to hand the big gloves to Ben Foakes feels like a masterstroke. The need for a specialist is undeniable and amongst the world's finest, Foakes stands out as a cricketer tailor-made for this challenge.