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    England are considering recalling Ollie Robinson to balance their bowling attack
England are considering recalling Ollie Robinson to balance their bowling attack
Ollie Robinson could be in line to play in the fourth Test via Getty Images

England are considering recalling Ollie Robinson to balance their bowling attack

Stokes could return as a bowling option. He could add weight to a potentially spin-heavy pitch.

England are considering reverting to their one specialist fast bowler for the crucial fourth Test in Ranchi, with Ollie Robinson set to make his first appearance of the tour. They could also benefit from Ben Stokes returning to his role as a seam-bowling all-rounder.

The tourists have not yet finalized their bowling line-up, but they are considering the balance they achieved in the first two Tests. During those matches, Mark Wood and James Anderson bowled independently alongside three spinners and Joe Root. In the third Test, which India won by 434 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the series, Anderson and Wood bowled together.

After bowling 76 overs and fielding for four days in Ranchi, Robinson is expected to be replaced by fresh legs, with Wood likely to be rested. This leaves Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum with a decision to make on whether to recall offspinner Shoaib Bashir for Anderson or stick with the veteran seamer, who has taken six wickets at an average of 35.83 in his two appearances so far. If England anticipates extreme spin conditions, they could reinforce the batting. Dan Lawrence, a useful off-spinner himself, is an outside bet for the first start of the Stokes-McCullum era.

Robinson's most recent Test appearance was against Australia at Headingley in July, which was also the last time he played a competitive match. Despite his underwhelming Ashes performance, he still has 76 wickets at 22.21 in 19 caps. He can draw on his experience in Pakistan last winter when he took nine dismissals at 21.22 with an economy rate of 2.47 on largely unhelpful surfaces.

The shift back to a spin-dominant attack has come after a first sight of the pitch at the JSCA International Stadium. Two days before the start of the Test, England were taken aback by the extent of the cracks already present. They anticipate a significant amount of turn from the beginning of the match, with variable bounce likely to come into play sooner rather than later.

Presently, it seems suitable for right-handed batsmen from the far end and for left-handed batsmen from this end. It appears that the wicket has some unevenness, with one side appearing to be flatter than the other.If Stokes can bowl, he could serve as a second seamer, making England's decision to recall Bashir much easier and giving them the best of both worlds.

The England captain used Wednesday's first training session in Ranchi to bowl at batters for the first time since his left knee surgery in November, opening up the possibility of bowling again in the remainder of the series. During his session, he faced Jonny Bairstow for an extended period, with England men's selector Luke Wright serving as the umpire to monitor his front foot. He appeared strong throughout and afterwards, he debriefed with England team physician Glen Rae.

Stokes last bowled competitively in the second Ashes Test at Lord's in June, when he took 197 wickets at an average of 32.07. Although he made a 'pinky-promise' to team physio Ben Davies that he would not bowl in India, he may be about to break that promise.

When asked about the possibility of Stokes bowling this week, Pope said there's definitely a chance. Stokes has not yet confirmed this even in the changing room, so we will have to wait and see. He did bowl at the batters today. If Stokes pulls up well, he will hopefully be able to play with the ball in hand during the game.

McCullum stated that he would hold Stokes back if he felt he was trying to progress too quickly. Similarly, as Stokes' deputy, Pope understands that he will have the task of keeping Stokes in check while on the field.

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