Kolkata: The controversy over England not playing the ongoing Test series - thanks to their rotational system - received a further twist as Moeen Ali, England’s best bowler in their crushing Test defeat in Chennai, has now chosen to return home and miss the rest of the series.
“Moeen has chosen to go home,” skipper Joe Root told reporters after the match. “I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision.”
“It’s obviously been a very tricky tour for him. As mentioned at the start, if players feel like they need to get out of the bubble, then that’s been an option.
“It is really important that we stand by that. That decision has been made. Hopefully he feels better for it.”
The spinning allrounder missed England’s clean sweep 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka after catching the coronavirus and was rested for the first Test victory against India. However, he took eight wickets in the second Test won by India by 317 runs inside four days to level the four-match series at 1-1.
Moeen, who has wide experience of playing in the Indian Premier League, also smashed 43 off 18 deliveries in the second innings to emerge as the team’s highest scorer.
Earlier, their star wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler went home after the first Test in Chennai while Jonny Bairstow will now be back for the third Test in Ahmedabad, starting from February 24. Interestingly, Buttler will be back again in India to play the T20 series as well as, in all likelihood, the 50-overs series.
Former captain Michael Vaughan expressed bemusement at England’s selection. “I thought Test cricket was the main priority after 2019 to make sure England try and get back the Ashes,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Why is it then that the Test team is being swapped and changed every week but the T20 team are at full strength.”
Kevin Pietersen, former England captain, also minced no words in his tweet: You don’t pick your best team in the hardest place to WIN a Test match, you actually cannot even show emotion to it.’’
Meanwhile, winning skipper Kohli at the prize distribution: “We were on the money this game in terms of body language and what we wanted to do on the field. The crowd makes a massive difference and you push more as a team when the fans are behind you. This game is an example of the grit and determination we’ve shown as a side and we continue to do that - and the fans’ support is a big part of that,” said Kohli at the post-match prize distribution ceremony.
“The conditions were challenging for both sides, but we showed more application, determination, and grit to battle it out. We didn’t panic looking at the turn and bounce on the pitch, trusted our defence and got into the game. We scored close to 600 runs in the two innings and if you put up that kind of a batting performance and string in those partnerships, we know we have got the bowlers to do the job in home conditions,” said Kohli.
England squad for third Test: Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.