England confirmed on Thursday that spinner Shoaib Bashir would make his Test debut in the second match of their India tour, following an injury to Jack Leach.
The tourists lead the five-match series 1-0 ahead of the Test starting on Friday in Visakhapatnam and have made two changes, with James Anderson coming in as the sole fast bowler.
Bashir entered India belatedly due to a visa delay, becoming the latest cricketer of Pakistani descent to encounter such issues in India, and consequently missed the opener that England won by 28 runs.
The 20-year-old off-spinner had to fly back to London from Abu Dhabi to complete the necessary paperwork for his entry to India.
“He was just taking it all in to be honest, landing that early then coming in and seeing what had gone on,” Stokes said on Bashir joining the team on Sunday.
“I think he really enjoyed being in that dressing room. There’s no worries and no issues for me that he’s been away from the group for a period of time, then coming back in to make his debut,” he added.
Bashir will be joining fellow spinners Rehan Ahmed, Joe Root, and Tom Hartley, the latter having shone in the opening win with figures of 7-62 in his Test debut.
Leach, a left-arm spinner, sustained a knee injury while fielding in the first Test and played a limited role before being forced out of the second with a haematoma.
Anderson is making a comeback to the team, replacing Mark Wood, who bowled 25 overs without a wicket in Hyderabad.
The 41-year-old is just 10 wickets away from reaching the milestone of 700 Test wickets, and Stokes praised his experienced teammate as the “old warhorse.”
“Bringing Jimmy’s experience, the class that he has, is great and I think it also goes under the radar how good his record in India is,” said Stokes.
“He has different skill sets that I will be able to exploit in Indian conditions.”
Part-time spinner Root returned a match haul of five wickets, including four in India’s first innings, and ably supported the young slow bowlers including Hartley and teenager Ahmed.
“To also have the benefit of Joe’s bowling out here is obviously massive,” said Stokes.
England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes, Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir, James Anderson