Jack Leach's 'Pretty Serious' Knee Injury Puts England into Trouble

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Stokes' reliance on the front-line spinner is tested as India dominates the second day

Vishal Singh Jan. 27, 2024

Jack Leach's left knee injurycompounded an awful second day for England in Hyderabad, as India swept to a 175 lead in the first innings of the first Test.

Leach suffered the injury when attempting to save a boundary on the first day of play. He has been Ben Stokes' primary spinner throughout his career and led a trio of spin attacks when he joined the game. On Friday morning, he further injured his knee. With the left-arm spinner bowling at most four overs in a period and occasionally leaving the pitch for treatment, it restricted him to only 16 of the 87 overs played during the day.

"He banged his knee last night, the first dive down at fine leg," Jeetan Patel, England's spin-bowling coach, said. "Then he banged it again today and it's giving him a little gyp, to be honest. You noticed in the outfield he was a little sluggish trying to get to balls, but he stuck at it and I thought he bowled well considering.
"It must be pretty serious, or serious for him anyway because the reality is he wouldn't shirk that responsibility. It is sore enough. You watch him in the outfield and I don't think it's a graze. For him to come back and keep bowling the overs he did... I believe he'll be back in the fourth innings.
"That's what Jack does for this team, he'll always put in. But it's a bit of a shame from where he's come [recovering from a stress fracture of the back last summer] to dive on one at fine leg and all of a sudden you're hobbling around. He'll be back. He's one of the strongest guys in the team. We've had to share the load and I thought the guys did well."

In Leach's absence, Joe Root stepped up to bowl 25 overs, taking 2 for 77 so far. Both 19-year-old legspinner Rehan Ahmed and left-arm spinner Tom Hartley made their debuts, with Hartley collecting his maiden two wickets in Test cricket, although both were unreliable. India reached 421 for 7 at stumps thanks to a lack of discipline, with Axar Patel (44) and Ravindra Jadeja (87) remaining undefeated overnight but later gave their wicket and made a total of 436 runs.

Joe Root

Despite the state of the contest, Patel remained optimistic about England's chances but acknowledged that victory in the game and the series depends on Leach's knee healing overnight.

"He's got another night to rest it. He's a tough bloke and he'll be raring to go," Patel said. "He's never going to shirk the responsibility of the job he has, but it's about being smart as well. We've got four Tests to go and another innings at the back end of this game. We need a key man like Jack."