West Indies earned a famous victory over Australia as Shamar Joseph overcame injury to inspire them to an eight-run victory at the Gabba.

Joseph had retired hurt while batting on day three after being hit by a Mitchell Starc yorker but claimed figures of seven for 68 in only his second Test to rip through the batting order and earn a first Windies win on Australian soil since 1997.

Steve Smith carried his bat for 91 but none of his colleagues reached 50.

The hosts started day four 60 for two, needing 156 runs to secure a win in the second Test, and looked to be going well as Smith and Cameron Green added 71 for the third wicket.

Joseph ended the partnership with a brilliant delivery to send the top of Green’s off-stump flying.

He struck again the following ball to send Travis Head back to the pavilion with a king pair and Mitchell Marsh and Alex Carey soon followed as the Australia batting line-up began to dwindle.

Starc fought back alongside Smith, scoring 21 off 14 before being caught by Kevin Sinclair off Joseph, and captain Pat Cummins was unable to recreate his first-innings heroics as he fell to Joseph for two.

Alzarri Joseph picked up his second wicket of the game to dismiss Nathan Lyon before Smith ran out of partners and was left stranded as Joseph wrapped up a famous win by bowling Josh Hazlewood to earn the tourists a series draw.

It is the first time the Windies have avoided a Test series defeat in Australia since 1993.

Shoaib Bashir rejoined his England team-mates on Sunday after finally arriving in India with his delayed visa.

The uncapped spinner was unable to join the rest of the squad when they transferred from their training camp in Abu Dhabi last weekend due to a hold-up with his paperwork.

Although born in Surrey, the 20-year-old’s family heritage in Pakistan caused lengthier than expected checks and he was ultimately forced to fly back to London to receive a stamp at the Indian high commission.

He finally landed in Hyderabad on day four of the first Test and made his way to link up with the side at the Ranjiv Gandhi Stadium.

The 20-year-old made his way out to the field of play at the lunch break and was soon playing his part, feeding throws to head coach Brendon McCullum as he warmed up his slip catchers ahead of India’s fourth-innings chase.

England captain Ben Stokes had expressed sympathy for Bashir on the eve of the match, saying: “I’m pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this.

“As a leader, as a captain, when one of your team-mates is affected by something like that, you get a bit emotional. It’s obviously a frustrating situation, more importantly, for him.”

The Somerset off-spinner could now come into contention for a Test debut next week in Visakhapatnam, with Jack Leach suffering from a knee injury.

Ollie Pope was last man out for a stunning 196 as England’s rousing resistance left India chasing 231 to win the first Test on day four in Hyderabad.

Pope fell four short a deserved double century, clean bowled attempting to scoop Jasprit Bumrah over his shoulder with just the injured Jack Leach for company, as the tourists fought their way to 420 all out in a stirring fightback.

They added 104 runs in the morning session as they became just the ninth away team in history to pass 400 in their second innings on Indian soil. When Ben Stokes departed midway through the third day, leaving the score at 163 for five, such an outcome seemed almost impossible.

Pope resumed on 148, a knock hailed by team-mate Joe Root as an “absolute masterclass”, and made it clear he was not finished yet as he reached 150 then sent a sizzling cover drive racing away for four.

His seventh-wicket partnership with Rehan Ahmed reached 64, the teenager contributing 28, before Bumrah had the 19-year-old caught behind.

That looked like a window of opportunity for India but the arrival of Tom Hartley confounded them even further, the tall left-hander looking entirely untroubled as he joined Pope in a stand of 80 in 106 balls.

The hosts were increasingly listless as England took the game on, Hartley producing a no-look scoop early in his innings before charging Ravichandran Ashwin and lacing him for four down the ground.

The arrival of the new ball did not bring the desired effect, Pope quick to flip it over his head for four more and Hartley pinging Ravindra Jadeja over the top.

When Ashwin did beat the bat, an increasing rarity, the ball nipped past Pope’s outside edge and skimmed away for four byes. Moments after unfurling a glorious straight drive Pope was granted a life on 186, fencing Mohammed Siraj to slip only for KL Rahul to spill a low catch.

Hartley, who joined Pope in using the reverse sweep to quell the spin, was finally undone for 34 by a shin-high grubber from Ashwin and that was the turning point India needed. Mark Wood came and went for a duck, caught behind off Jadeja, and when Leach hobbled to the crease Pope decided to force the issue.

With lunch approaching he decided to stoop low paddle Bumrah over the wicketkeeper, a plan that ended with his off stump out of the ground. It was the end of a career-best knock and the seventh highest ever scored by an Englishman in the second innings.

Shamar Joseph has been cleared of a fracture to his toe after retiring hurt following a blow from a Mitchell Starc yorker, raising the prospect that he could yet play a part on the fourth day at the Gabba as West Indies aim to defend 216 for a famous victory.

Starc speared the delivery into Joseph's boot and it was initially given lbw before the third umpire called a no-ball, but by then Joseph was already on the ground in pain. He quickly took off his shoe and sock as the physio came out and it was soon decided he couldn't continue and was helped off the field. His retirement brought an end to West Indies' second innings. After initially being iced in the dressing room, it was later confirmed he would be heading for scans and they brought good news later in the evening.

"He will continue to be monitored by the medical team and assessed tomorrow," a statement posted on X said.

Shamar Joseph's injury had left West Indies with just two frontline quicks, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph, supplemented by allrounder Justin Greaves and the offspin of Kevin Sinclair as they tried to earn a first victory in Australia since 1997 in what would go down as one of the biggest upsets of all time. By the close they removed Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne to keep their hopes alive although Steven Smith was looking solid.

Alazarri Joseph said they were all wishing for the best for Shamar, but had to focus on the task at hand and retained belief they could secure victory.

"At the end of the day the game has to go on and we have a job to do. Can't worry about who's not there," he said. "Think we bowled pretty well. It's just for us to come tomorrow and keep pegging away. We still have eight wickets to get, you never know what could happen on the fourth day. As long as we bowl the ball in the right areas we can still win this game."

"I like the fight the boys have put in with bat and ball," he added. "We'll take quite a bit of confidence from this series but the game isn't done yet so there could be more."

Shamar Joseph became an overnight sensation on his Test debut when he claimed Steven Smith with his first ball in Adelaide and went on to finish with 5 for 94. He also impressed with the bat at No. 11, making 36 in his first innings.

In Brisbane, he removed Alex Carey in the first innings as West Indies threatened to secure a big lead before Australia drew nearly level before declaring.



The second Test between West Indies and Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane remains finely poised after a riveting second day's play. At stumps, the West Indies, who scored 311 in their first innings, were 13 for 1, holding a slender lead of 35 runs after Australia declared their first innings reply on 289-9.

The visitors faced a tricky half-hour's play under the lights, and Tagenarine Chanderpaul became the sole wicket in the last over of the day, caught behind off the bowling of Josh Hazelwood for four.

Earlier in the day, Australia's innings experienced a rollercoaster ride, recovering from a precarious position of 54-5 to declare on 289-9. West Indies' fast bowlers, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph, wreaked havoc, with Joseph claiming 4-84 and Roach providing crucial support with 3-47.

However, a remarkable counterattacking display by Alex Carey, who scored a brisk 65 in a partnership with Usman Khawaja, and an aggressive unbeaten 64 from Captain Pat Cummins, guided Australia back into contention. The hosts were struggling at 24 for 4 at dinner and 54 for 5 not long after, but the innings turned around with resilient performances.

Carey's innings, reminiscent of the legendary Adam Gilchrist, featured fearless strokes, but he fell for 65 from 49 balls before tea. Khawaja played the anchor role, contributing 75 runs, but was eventually dismissed by Kevin Sinclair. Mitchell Starc's departure on the stroke of tea left Australia in a precarious position.

A crucial moment occurred when a delivery from Shamar Joseph narrowly missed dislodging Carey's off bail, providing a stroke of luck for the Australian batsman. He capitalized on this fortune, striking three consecutive boundaries and displaying aggressive strokes. However, his dismissal at a critical juncture added to Australia's challenges.

In the final overs, West Indies' Chanderpaul fell to Hazelwood, setting the stage for a closely contested Test match. The fate of the game remains uncertain, with both teams aiming to seize control in the upcoming sessions.

At the start of play the West Indies resumed from their overnight score of 266-8 with Kevin Sinclair on 16. Kemar Roach joined him at the crease and together they resisted the Australian attack without much bother.

The pair batted through the first hour without loss with Sinclair doing the bulk of the scoring. The partnership was finally broken after Roach defended a ball to mid-off and called for a single, but Sinclair caught a glimpse of Labuschagne swooping in and made a very late call of no with Roach already halfway down. He slipped over trying to put the brakes on and was run out with ease.

Australia could have removed Sinclair on 30. He poked Pat Cummins straight to gully and Green spilt a sitter at thigh height. The Guyanese bowling all-rounder made Green and Australia pay with some excellent shots thereafter, sweeping Nathan Lyon for four and then lofted him inside-out over mid-off in consecutive balls to bring up his half-century.

He fell next ball, stumped by Alex Carey, for a well-played 50.

Mitchell Starc ended with 4-82 with Hazlewood taking 2-38 and Lyon 2-81.


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England’s bowlers were striving to stay in the first Test as India began building a dangerous lead on day two in Hyderabad.

By tea the hosts had cleared their overnight deficit of 127 and moved 63 in front on 309 for five, leaving their opponents with a mountain to climb.

It could have been worse for England, who largely relied on some overambitious strokes for their breakthroughs, as their limitations in sub-continental conditions were exposed.

There were two wickets for debutant Tom Hartley, who rallied gamely after a chastening first day to pick up Shubman Gill and top-scorer KL Rahul (86), while Joe Root had the satisfaction of striking with the fourth ball of the morning.

Explosive opener Yashasvi Jaiswal gave England a major headache on Thursday evening, piling into Hartley and thrashing his way to 76 at almost a run-a-ball, but he added just four runs as he succumbed to the fourth delivery of the day, Root reaching above his head to pluck a caught-and-bowled chance off the inside edge.

Ben Stokes had pondered the idea of opening the bowling with Root on the eve of the series, fancying his off-breaks to cause problems for the left-hander, and may regret waiting so long to test his theory.

Things almost got even better when Root had Rahul nicking two balls later on nought, but Ben Foakes was not able to pull off what would have been an excellent catch behind the stumps. That Root was England’s most consistent threat spoke of his own resourcefulness but also cast an unflattering reflection on his fellow spinners.

Hartley began at the other end, Stokes eager not to overprotect the 24-year-old after his previous struggles, and he responded with a tighter spell. Where his first nine overs cost 63, this time he got through the same number for 30. More importantly, he opened his account.

Gill, who never really got going in his 23, flicked Hartley off his leg stump and picked out Ben Duckett at midwicket. The left-armer sprinted away in a mix of celebration and relief.

India took lunch 24 behind, having scored 103 in the first session, with Rahul reaching a tidy half-century before the interval.

There were concerns over the fitness of lead spinner Jack Leach after he was restricted to two overs in the morning, but he took a larger share of the load in the afternoon. England were mostly unable to locate any demons in the pitch, though, and Rahul blasted India into the lead with a pair of sixes off leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed.

The second was a horrible drag down but the teenager was not alone in serving up the occasional freebie as England offered too many boundary balls. Ahmed did get on the board when Shreyas Iyer aimed a slog-sweep towards the stands but failed to clear Hartley, holing out for 35.

With a century up for grabs Rahul succumbed to the latest unforced error, skying an unthreatening long-hop from Hartley into Ahmed’s hands when he could have hit it anywhere.

Ravindra Jadeja ensured India did not let their momentum slip, hitting sixes off Leach and Hartley as he reached 45 not out by tea.

Joe Root struck in the first over of the day and Tom Hartley claimed a maiden international wicket but England were unable hold India down on the second morning of the first Test.

The home side reached lunch just 24 behind on 222 for three, adding 103 for two in the opening session at Hyderabad’s Ranjiv Gandhi Stadium.

KL Rahul’s 55no and Shreyas Iyer’s 34no left India a healthy position as they looked to build a match-winning lead, but England showed fight in an even first hour.

Concerningly, first-choice spinner Jack Leach managed only two overs in the session and appeared to be suffering from a stiff back.

Explosive opener Yashavi Jaiswal gave the tourists a major headache on Thursday evening with a swashbuckling start to the innings but he added just four to his overnight score to fall for 80.

Ben Stokes had pondered the idea of opening the bowling with Root on the eve of the series, fancying his off-breaks to cause problems for the left-hander, but ultimately favoured his specialist spinners on day one.

Reversing that decision he tossed Root the ball at the start of play and saw him pick up Jaiswal with his fourth delivery, reaching for a caught and bowled off a thick inside edge.

Things almost got even better when Root had new man Rahul nicking two balls later on nought, but Ben Foakes was not able to pull off what would have been an excellent catch behind the stumps. Rahul made the most of it, hitting six fours in his 72-ball half-century, while Iyer also got a strong start.

Debutant Hartley was looking to bounce back from a difficult start to life as a Test bowler, Jaiswal having smashed his first ball for six in a costly maiden spell, but was thrust straight back into the action by Stokes.

Having shipped 63 runs from nine wicketless overs on day one he was much improved at his second attempt, sending down 11 overs for 34. Even more importantly, he opened his account with the scalp of Shubman Gill.

Gill never really got going in his 23 and flicked Hartley off his leg stump and straight to Ben Duckett at midwicket. The left-armer sprinted away in a mix of celebration and relief. England used one short spell from Mark Wood but with Leach seemingly unable to take a full load, lacked an extra option.

The West Indies faced a tumultuous opening day at Brisbane in the second Test against Australia, with the score standing at 266-8 at stumps. The day/night match showcased the brilliance of Mitchell Starc, who claimed four crucial wickets, including his 350th Test scalp, to rattle the West Indies top order.

The day began with the West Indies winning the toss, offering them a golden opportunity. However, Starc had different plans, dismantling the top order in the opening session. He took three wickets, while Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins each contributed with one. The West Indies' top six struggled to adapt to the extra bounce, with five of them nicking deliveries that could have been left alone.

Just when it seemed like the West Indies might squander their chance, Kavem Hodge and Joshua Da Silva orchestrated a remarkable fightback during the middle session. They batted through the twilight period, frustrating the Australian bowlers on what was considered a good batting pitch at the Gabba. The duo forged a resilient partnership of 149 for the sixth wicket, showcasing excellent defense and decision-making.

As the pink ball softened and the pitch flattened out, Da Silva and Hodge capitalized on any overpitched deliveries, driving with control through cover and down the ground. Despite Australia cycling through seven bowlers in the session, including Marnus Labuschagne, the West Indies' batsmen stood firm, forming the highest and longest stand of the series to date.

Da Silva's valiant effort eventually came to an end when he fell for 79 to a delivery from Nathan Lyon. Attempting to flick the ball, he missed and was adjudged plumb in front. Hodge, on the other hand, continued his impressive innings, reaching 71 before edging to slip off Mitchell Starc.

The lower order then contributed, with Kevin Sinclair and Alzarri Joseph adding a valuable 41 runs. Joseph played the aggressor, striking seven fours in his quick 22-ball knock. However, Josh Hazlewood induced a thick edge off the last ball of the day, dismissing Joseph for 32. Kevin Sinclair was not out on 16 at the close.

Earlier in the day, the top order struggled to display the same discipline. Kraigg Brathwaite was the first to fall, enticed into a half-hearted drive by Hazlewood. Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Kirk McKenzie steadied the ship briefly, but McKenzie's aggression led to his downfall as he nicked to slip while trying to cut Cummins off the front foot.

Starc returned before the first break to claim three wickets in quick succession. Chanderpaul, Alick Athanaze, and Justin Greaves all fell victim to Starc's skillful bowling. Athanaze's dismissal marked a milestone for Starc, as he secured his 350th Test wicket, becoming the fifth Australian to achieve this feat and leaving him just four wickets behind Dennis Lillee on Australia's all-time list. The West Indies will look to regroup and build on their total on the second day of this captivating Test match.

Ben Stokes hit a counter-attacking half-century in tricky conditions as England were spun out for 246 on the first day of the first Test against India.

While far from an imposing total it was higher than seven of England’s eight innings on their previous tour of the country in 2021, bolstered by a gutsy effort of 70 from the captain.

Stokes struck three sixes and six fours in his first appearance since undergoing knee surgery, balancing sound technique with blasts of raw power and was last man out midway through the evening session.

India’s trio of spinners shared eight of the 10 wickets, with familiar foes Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja taking three apiece and Axar Patel claiming two. Although there was nothing outrageous from the surface, the amount of movement was significant for a first day pitch and is only likely to head in one direction.

England, who gambled on three spinners of their own, will be hoping to take advantage in a similar way.

Stokes would have been mightily relieved to win the toss and bat first and, for 45 minutes at least, everything fell England’s way as Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett kicked off the tour with an opening stand of 55.

But their fortunes nosedived as soon as the hosts swapped out seam for spin, losing three wickets in 21 balls for the addition of just five runs.

The hosts devoted the first eight overs of the game to pace but despite a hint of swing for Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah, Crawley and Duckett took their chance to get on top with a handful of boundaries.

Crawley produced a pair of beautifully balanced on-drives, with Duckett riding the odd play-and-miss as he attacked the off side. At 41 for nought, India skipper Rohit Sharma had seen enough and sent for spin.

Almost instantly, things began to happen. Duckett swept a couple of fours before he became the first wicket of the series, pushing forward with a straight bat and falling for 35 as Ashwin won a tight lbw.

Ollie Pope, playing his first innings since the second Ashes Test in June, followed close behind. He lasted 11 uncomfortable deliveries before nicking Jadeja tamely to slip for one. After six months on the shelf, the cobwebs were clear to see.

A big lbw shout against the newly-arrived Root came moments later but after a long delay DRS appeared to show a thin edge before impact with the pad.

England’s relief lasted just a matter of seconds with Crawley driving Ashwin low to mid-off. At 60 for three it was a tense time but Bairstow’s arrival at his former IPL home ground shifted the tone.

He led the way in his stand of 61 with Root, seeing England to 108 at lunch. There was a growing sense of calm as they resumed but Patel produced a cracker to dismiss Bairstow, spearing it in on a leg-stump line and ripping it into the top of off.

Bairstow (37) was nearly blameless but Root (29) took a share of the blame when a hard-handed sweep at Jadeja looped high to short fine-leg.

Ben Foakes nicked Patel behind for four on his return to the side, Rehan Ahmed was done by an off-cutter as Bumrah returned for a second spell and debutant Tom Hartley was cleaned up by Jadeja after a sparky knock that included a swatted six off Ashwin.

Stokes resumed after tea on 43 not out and made the most of the time he had left, leathering Jadeja for back-to-back sixes to reach his fifty and later dishing out some of the same treatment to Ashwin.

The innings subsided when he was bowled by a Bumrah yorker, beaten through the air as he made room outside leg.

India’s spinners dialled up the heat on England on the first day of the first Test, leaving the tourists 215 for eight at tea on a turning track in Hyderabad.

Although the movement was not yet extreme, it was enough for the slow bowlers to share seven wickets in two sessions, with England captain Ben Stokes making a late charge on 43 not out.

Stokes’ hopes of batting first were realised when he won a crucial toss and, for 45 minutes, everything went England’s way as openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett kicked off the tour with a busy stand of 55.

But their fortunes nosedived as soon as the hosts swapped out seam for spin, losing three wickets in 21 balls for the addition of just five runs as familiar foes Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took hold.

The Yorkshire duo of Joe Root (29) and Jonny Bairstow (37), both experienced campaigners in these taxing conditions, worked hard to repair the damage with a 61-run partnership but trouble resurfaced after lunch.

England lost both in quick succession, Bairstow finding a good rhythm before falling to the ball of the day from Axar Patel and Root top-edging a sweep to short fine-leg.

India snapped up another three before the break, including debutant Tom Hartley for a lively 23, but could not shut down Stokes.

He collected five boundaries, turning up the aggression with some neat reverse sweeps and crisp drives to carry his side past the 200 mark.

England lost three wickets in quick succession against India’s spinners after the tourists enjoyed a bright start to the first Test in Hyderabad.

At lunch the tourists were 108 for three, with Yorkshire duo Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in the midst of a repair job following India’s triple breakthrough.

A bullish opening stand of 55 between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett gave England the upper hand for the first 45 minutes, but once the seamers gave way to the slow bowlers it was a different story.

India picked up three wickets for five runs in the space of 21 balls, Ravichandran Ashwin picking off both set batters and Ravindra Jadeja making short work of an uncomfortable Ollie Pope.

The game was moving away from England quickly, as it has many times before in this part of the world, but they found stability in their experienced middle-order pair.

Root survived an lbw scare off his second ball to reach 18no and Bairstow, resuming life as a specialist number five after ceding the wicketkeeping gloves to Ben Foakes, found a nice flow for 32no.

With a side containing a solitary seam option and four spinners, England captain Ben Stokes would have been mightily relieved to win the toss and surprised nobody by choosing to bat.

The hosts devoted the first eight overs to pace but despite a hint of swing for Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah, Crawley and Duckett took their chance to get on top with a handful of boundaries.

Crawley produced a pair of sweet on-drives off, with Duckett riding the odd play-and-miss as he flashed eagerly through the off-side.

At 41 for nought, India skipper Rohit Sharma had seen enough and sent for spin. Almost instantly, things began to happen. Duckett swept a couple of fours before he became the first wicket of the series, pushing forward with a straight bat and falling to a tight lbw as Ashwin squeezed one through.

Pope, playing his first innings since the second Ashes Test in June, followed close behind. He lasted 11 uncomfortable deliveries before nicking Jadeja tamely to slip for one. There was a big shout against the newly arrived Root moments later, but after a long delay DRS appeared to show a thin edge before impact with the pad.

England’s relief lasted just a matter of seconds with Crawley driving Ashwin straight to mid-off, where Siraj scooped a low catch. At 58 for three, it was a tense time but Bairstow’s arrival at his former IPL home ground shifted the tone.

Brendon McCullum insists England are ready to be “really brave” with their team selection for the first Test against India, leaning into one of the biggest challenges in cricket.

England’s red-ball team are back in action for the first time in almost six months on Thursday, beginning a five-match tour in Hyderabad.

India have been dominant on home soil over the past decade and have lost only three matches out of 46 since they last lost a series, to Sir Alastair Cook’s England in 2012.

But McCullum refuses to be pessimistic and is instead piecing together an XI that can spring a surprise. On a pitch that is expected to offer plenty of turn, England must decide how bold to be with a callow spin unit featuring the established Jack Leach and rookies Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir.

“What balance we go for in terms of the side we’ll work out in the coming days, but the thing we need to be is really brave with whatever we decide,” he said.

“India is the land of opportunity and that’s what sits in front of us now, we’ll take the positive option. Other teams might be better, but we want to be the bravest. We’ve got to do that and that’s got to be factored into selection, too.”

Ben Stokes is set to the lead the side, with England content over his rehabilitation from knee surgery. The captain left a private clinic on crutches at the end of November, setting up a race against time to be fit, and has been chronicling his recovery on social media.

He is not ready to resume bowling but McCullum is confident he is ready for action as skipper and specialist batter.

“He looks like a greyhound. He’s stripping fit,” he said.

“He’s put the hard work in and everyone knows his work ethic is phenomenal. I’ve seen him running around and I think he’s good to go. We’ll obviously make that call as late as what we need to. But he’s put all the work in and we’ll just have to wait and see.”

With Harry Brook absent for personal reasons, England seem set to restore Ben Foakes as wicketkeeper. He and Jonny Bairstow, who took the gloves during the Ashes last summer, are both due to play but it was Foakes who took a long keeping drill during Monday’s practice.

England know they will face criticism for being under-prepared if things go badly in the opening game, but McCullum made no apologies for his decision to host a training camp in Abu Dhabi rather than warm-up games on Indian soil.

“The preparation was brilliant. The facilities out there are as good as anywhere in the world,” he said.

“The guys walked away from Abu Dhabi with a huge amount of confidence that we’ve prepared as well as we possibly can.

“In the end all you’re trying to do is get guys in the frame of mind where they feel 10 foot tall and bulletproof when they walk out to play.

“We’ve got to take 20 wickets with the ball in each Test and we’ve got to get one more run than them with the bat. It’s not rocket science but it will be the nuances of the game and when to stick and when to twist which will be the fascinating part.”

India’s star batter Virat Kohli has withdrawn from his side’s first two Tests against England citing personal reasons.

Kohli, a national hero and the most famous cricketer on the planet, had been named in the squad for Thursday’s series opener in Hyderabad but requested a leave of absence.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India did not offer details about the 35-year-old’s circumstances but stated: “certain personal situations demand his presence and undivided attention”.

The news follows England batter Harry Brook flying home to be with family, with both sides losing a key member of their batting unit.

Kohli also missed two T20s against Afghanistan earlier this month for personal reasons, but came back to the side to complete the series.

A statement from the BCCI secretary Jay Shah read: “Mr Virat Kohli has requested to be withdrawn from the first two Tests of the upcoming IDFC First Bank Test series against England, citing personal reasons.

“Virat has spoken to captain Rohit Sharma, the team management and the selectors and has emphasised that while representing the country has always been his top priority, certain personal situations demand his presence and undivided attention.

“The BCCI respects his decision and the Board and team management has extended its support to the star batter and is confident in the abilities of the remaining squad members to step up and deliver commendable performances in the Test series.

“The BCCI requests the media and fans to respect Virat Kohli’s privacy during this time and refrain from speculating on the nature of his personal reasons. The focus should remain on supporting the Indian cricket team as they embark on the upcoming challenges in the Test series.”

England touched down in India without uncapped spinner Shoaib Bashir after a visa delay saw him grounded in Abu Dhabi.

The Test squad was already a man down after the news that Harry Brook had returned home for personal reasons and their number was thinned to 14 by the time they travelled from their training camp in the United Arab Emirates to Hyderabad.

There was a hold-up with Bashir’s paperwork, meaning he was unable to make the trip with the rest of the squad.

Bashir, who has a Pakistani background, was the only member of the touring party to experience such problems. There were reports of Pakistani fans and media struggling to gain visas for the recent World Cup in India.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is hopeful the issues will be ironed out after calling for assistance from its hosts but with the first Test starting on Thursday, there is precious little time.

“Bash will join us hopefully tomorrow, he’s got a couple of issues with his visa coming through,” said head coach Brendon McCullum.

“We’re confident on the back of the help from the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and the Indian government that it will sort itself out pretty quickly as well.

“Things take time, don’t they? Everyone is doing what they can. It’s a process we need to go through and we’re pretty confident that we’re close. We’ve also got a little bit of support out there for him so he’s not on his own.

“We’re hoping the news will come through today that his visa has been approved, then we’ll get him to sink his teeth into this series.”

McCullum also offered his support to Brook, who left the squad over the weekend to be with his family.

There is no date for his return but the lines of communication remain open and Brook will be making the decision.

“Obviously our thoughts are with Harry and his family, it’s a tough time. It’s a privileged position to play cricket for a living but some things are more important than that,” said McCullum.

“There’s a chance he may return later in the tour but for now we just want him to be with his family and do his thing. We’ll just keep talking.

“When he says he might be ready, when that conversation starts to happen, cool. If that doesn’t happen then that’s OK as well.”

Batter Harry Brook is heading home from England’s Test tour of India for personal reasons and will not returning.

The 24-year-old will leave the squad, currently in Dubai preparing for the start of the first Test on Thursday, with immediate effect, the England and Wales Cricket Board have confirmed.

“The Brook family respectfully requests privacy during this time. In light of this, the ECB and the family kindly request the media and the public to respect their wish for privacy and refrain from intruding on their private space,” said an ECB statement.

England’s selectors will confirm a replacement player for the tour in due course and they are likely to look to the Lions squad, who are currently in Ahmedabad.

Captain Josh Bohannon scored a century against India A last week, while other middle order options include James Rew and Dan Mousley.

In the short term for the first Test they may now play wicketkeepers Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes rather than having to choose between the two.

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