Jack Leach joins Virat Kohli in missing rest of India v England Test series

Tourist's spinner ruled out due to knee injury one day after news that home side's key batter will be absent for final three matches

Jack Leach congratulates Shoaib Bashir ahead of the young spinner's debut in the Visakhapatnam second Test Getty Images
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England spinner Jack Leach will miss the rest of the Test series in India due to the knee injury he picked up during the opening match in Hyderabad.

The 32-year-old started the first Test but played a limited role as England won by 28-runs. With heavy strapping on his leg, he was able to bat and bowl on the fourth day, taking the crucial wicket of Shreyas Iyer as India suffered just a fourth home defeat in 47 Tests.

But he missed the next match in Visakhapatnam, which saw India level the series with a 106-run victory.

“Obviously, it would be a shame for Leachy to miss out, he's a fantastic bowler, but we've got good depth,” said England opener Zak Crawley after the first Test. “We've got a good spin attack and good seamers to back them up.”

His absence for the second Test saw Somerset teammate Shoaib Bashir come into the side, where he picked up four wickets on his international debut.

Bashir was joined by Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley in England’s spin attack, with the trio holding only three caps between them going into that match.

England will not be calling up a replacement and Leach – who has taken 126 wickets in 36 Tests – will now return home from Abu Dhabi where England are taking a break ahead of the next match in Rajkot that starts on Thursday.

Left-arm spinner Leach had only just returned to the side having missed last summer's Ashes series against Australia with a stress fracture in his back.

In a statement, the England and Wales Cricket Board said: “He will fly home from Abu Dhabi in the next 24 hours … Leach will work closely with the England and Somerset medical teams in respect of his rehabilitation.”

The final two matches will be played at Ranchi and Dharamsala, starting on February 23 and March 7, respectively, with England relying on their inexperienced spin trio, along with part-timer Joe Root, as they look to become the first side to win away on Indian soil since 2012.

The latest news comes only a day after it was announced that India's star batter Virat Kohli will miss the rest of the Test series or personal reasons.

The 35-year-old former captain had already missed the opening two matches for the same reason but the Board of Control for Cricket in India said on Saturday that Kohli also will be absent from the remaining three Tests.

Both he and the BCCI have given no details on the reasons for his absence.

“Virat Kohli will remain unavailable for selection for the remainder of the series due to personal reasons,” the BCCI said in a statement. “The Board fully respects and supports Mr Kohli's decision.”

Kohli remains the backbone of India's batting with 8,848 runs, including 29 centuries, and an average of over 49 in 113 Tests and his absence will give England a boost.

It will be the first time Kohli has missed an entire home Test series since he made his debut in 2011 and he remains India’s highest batsman in the Test batting rankings (seventh) and averages 60 on home soil.

Batter Shreyas Iyer was another notable absence from the 17-man squad named for the remainder of the series on Saturday.

Iyer, who was in the XI for the first two Tests but struggled to find his form in any of his four innings, had back surgery for a slipped disc last year. He has managed just 104 runs from four innings, averaging 26.

ESPNCricinfo reported he had told team management that he suffered a flare-up of back spasms after the second Test.

Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul were both included but their participation was “subject to fitness clearance from the BCCI medical team”, the board said.

Meanwhile, Rajat Patidar, who made his debut in Visakhapatnam, scoring 32 and 9, has retained his spot, as has the uncapped Sarfaraz Khan.

Updated: February 11, 2024, 11:25 AM