Pace bowler Saqib Mahmood is set to get his maiden Test cap after fellow pacer Mark Wood was ruled out of the third Test against India to be played here at Headingley from Wednesday, England captain Joe Root has hinted. Batsman Dawid Malan is also set to feature in the playing XI.

The right-arm pace bowler from Birmingham has played seven ODIs and nine T20 Internationals for England and had burst into limelight with a four-wicket haul in an ODI against Pakistan in July.

“I feel like Saqib couldn’t be in a better place to play Test cricket. We look at how he has progressed over the last couple of years across all the formats. The opportunities that he has taken which he has been given is exceptional,” said England skipper Joe Root to media during a virtual interaction.

“He went into that one-day series [against Pakistan] as probably the most experienced player and the go-to seamer and was under pressure. It is just great to see the strength and depth, and him developing the way he has developed over a period of time,” added Root.

Mahmood, who is strongly-built and bowls at an impressive pace, picked nine wickets during the three-match ODI series that England won.

Root said missing the second Test is frustrating for Mark Wood, who bowled in India’s second innings of the second Test despite pain.

“He bowled very well. This is frustrating for him and us. It gives opportunity to some of the others to step up.”

Root also said that Dawid Malan, who was called in to bolster a struggling England batting line-up, will bat in the top order. Malan could play at No. 3 with Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns set to open the batting.

“Dawid will offer a lot of experience in the top 3. Not necessarily Test cricket, but he has played lots of international cricket. He has dealt with pressure situations. He has played a lot of red-ball cricket over the course of his career. He also had great success and played in a massive series in Australia away (2017-18 Ashes) and been our leading run-scorer there,” added Root.

Malan had hit a century and three half-centuries during that Ashes tour.

“We know that he is capable of big things in Test match cricket and he is coming on the back of one County Championship score, but it is a big one (199 for Yorkshire vs Sussex in first week of June). He scores in pressure situations in shorter format,” said the 30-year-old England captain who became the second highest run-getter for England in Test cricket during the ongoing series.

The England skipper also hinted that Hameed and Burns could pair up as openers.

“They (Hameed and Burns) are two very fine players. They are different in styles. It is an opportunity for them to make some big runs and get us off to a good start and hopefully, we can follow through on that.”

–IANS

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