England make two changes to Test squad

Haseeb Hameed's replacement comes with high praise from a recently-retired Australian Test opener

England have been forced to make two changes to their squad for their tour of India, calling up opener Keaton Jennings and spin-bowling allrounder Liam Dawson for the final two Tests of the five-match series.

The pair replace teenage batsman Haseeb Hameed, who broke his finger in the third Test in Mohali, and allrounder Zafar Ansari, who suffered a back injury in the second Test in Visakhapatnam.

Jennings, a Johannesburg-born batsman who captained South Africa’s Under-19 side, looks set to become skipper Alastair Cook’s 11th different Test opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012.

The 24-year-old replaces Hameed, who batted with a fractured finger in England’s second innings in Mohali to score a gallant unbeaten half-century.

Hameed will undergo surgery on the digit back in the United Kingdom while Ansari will stay with the Test squad and continue to receive medical support before returning to England on December 8.

Jennings is set to make his debut for the England Lions against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai on Thursday, and will link up with the Test squad on December 5.

Dawson, who is currently playing in the Bangladesh Premier League for the Rangpur Riders, is expected to join the England squad in Mumbai in early next week.

Jennings was the leading run-scorer in the County Championship in 2016, notching 1548 runs at 64.50, while Dawson made his international limited-over debut earlier this year.

Former Australia Test opener Chris Rogers, who captained Somerset during their 2016 Championship campaign, had previously tipped Jennings as the man he believed should partner Cook at the top of the order.

"There’s a guy who’s been a standout this year in Keaton Jennings," Rogers told in September.

"As an opener he has a very simple game and I like that. He plays very straight, he accumulates, grinds out runs, and makes himself difficult to get out. 

"He’s actually quite tall for an opener; he’s probably close to 6’2” (188cm) and can use his reach to his advantage. 

"There’s a lot to like about him. He’s looked a different player this year to what I’ve seen of him before. 

"Whether (England selectors) want to see him back that up again (next season) who knows, but it’s been an exceptional season by him and you have to respect what he’s achieved so far.

"If you’re going to reward performance then Keaton Jennings (should be selected).

"(But) going to Asia to play is a much different challenge.”

India lead the five-Test series 2-0.

England v India Tests fixture:

Fourth Test: December 8 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Fifth Test: Decemeber 16 at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

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