England suffered yet another injury setback on Monday with fast bowler Mark Wood ruled out of the third Test against India, which begins in Headingley on Wednesday.
Joe Root's team entered the five-match series against India without quicks Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes, while star all-rounder Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break from cricket. Then, after the first Test, veteran seamer Stuart Broad was ruled out of the series due to a calf muscle injury.
And now, Wood has been sidelined after hurting his right shoulder while fielding in the Lord's second Test which Virat Kohli's team won in dramatic fashion in the final hour by 151 runs.
Wood hurt his shoulder on Day 4 but surprisingly continued to bowl as England pushed for victory. But not only did the hosts lose the Test, they lost their premier quick in the process and England's decision to bowl Wood on Day 5 has been met with criticism.
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott, writing for The Daily Telegraph, said: “It was madness. Modern-day cricketers all dive athletically to save runs and the effort is commendable, but it is not worth the risk of injury to a leading bowler.”
Wood's injury could mean an opportunity for young fast bowler Saqib Mahmood, who came in as cover for Broad.
“He couldn’t be in a better place to potentially play Test cricket,” England captain Root said of Mahmood on Monday.
“He came out of the one-day series [against Pakistan in July] as probably the most experienced player and the go-to seamer we went to under pressure. It just shows how far he has come and it’s great to see that strength in depth.”
Given the precarious situation, veteran seam bowler James Anderson will have to carry the bowling burden once again, with Ollie Robinson and Sam Curran providing support.
Dawid Malan is expected to bat at No3 after being called up for the first time since 2018, when he played against India in the last of his 15 Tests. Since then, he has established himself as a star in white-ball cricket.
England go into the match against Virat Kohli's team bidding not only to level the series but also end a run of seven Tests without a victory.