“The opportunities he has taken this year when given, he’s been exceptional and a standout bowler” – Joe Root

England captain Joe Root is all praise for young pacer Saqib Mahmood and feels that he will do an excellent job if given a chance to debut in the 3rd test match against India to be held at Headingely. Since Mark Wood is out of the third test owing to a shoulder injury, it has created an opportunity for Mahmood who might make his debut in the longest format of the game.

During a virtual press conference, Joe Root firmly stated, “I feel Saqib Mahmood couldn’t be in a better place to potentially play Test cricket. You look at how he has progressed over the last couple of years across all the formats. The opportunities he has taken this year when given, he’s been exceptional and a standout bowler.” The English captain further added, “He came out at the back of that one-day series (against Pakistan) as probably the most experienced player and the go-to seamer that Ben (Stokes) went to under pressure. It just shows how far he has come and it is great to see that strength and depth and him developing over a period of time as he has done now.”

Mahmood had been impressive in the three match ODI series against Pakistan as the hosts had clinched the series 3-0. He had picked nine wickets at a remarkable average of 13.67.

Talking about Mark Wood’s absence, Root said, “Yeah, it is frustrating for Mark (Wood) and us as a side as well. I thought he bowled really well, especially in that second innings (at Lord’s). He gives us a real point of difference with his added pace and seems to be really good when playing. There’s frustration for him more than for anyone else. But we have to deal with it.” Mark Wood had claimed five crucial wickets in the second test at Lords, including two early key wickets of both the openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. Mark Wood’s fierce pace had been creating problems for the English batsmen.

England’s top three had performed horribly in both the tests which forced the captain Root to make the changes in the squad. Dawid Malan has been selected in the squad for the third test ahead of Dom Sibley, who was out of form for an extensive period, finally being dropped from the team. Speaking on Dawid Malan’s inclusion, Root said, “Dawid Malan will offer us a lot of experience in that top three, not necessarily in terms of international experience in Test cricket. But he has played a huge amount of international cricket, he has dealt with pressure and he has played red-ball cricket over the course of his career and he has had great success. We know he is capable of big things in Test cricket.”

India will enter the third test at Headingley with a significant advantage of 1-0 in the series.

Avishkar Govardhane is a Sports Editor and enthusiast, working here at Clout News covering the latest Cricket News.

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