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England hope Curran can carry-on against India

One to watch: England’s Sam Curran © AFP/File / ADRIAN DENNIS

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom, Aug 5 – England coach Trevor Bayliss believes Sam Curran’s competitive attitude will serve him well as the all-rounder looks to build on his first-Test heroics against India.

Still only 20, Curran starred with both bat and ball as England celebrated their 1,000th Test with a 31-run win at Edgbaston, taking four for 74 in India’s first innings and hitting a maiden Test fifty to rescue the hosts from the depths of 87 for seven in their second innings.

It was a hugely impressive display by a man playing just his second match at this level and particularly heartening for England, who will be without fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes because of a trial on a charge of affray when they look to go 2-0 up during the second Test of a five-match series at Lord’s starting Thursday.

Bayliss said the only problem he and England captain Joe Root faced in handling Curran, whose brother Tom has also played international cricket, was preventing him getting frustrated when not directly involved in the action.

“He wants to be in the fight — just like his brother,” said Bayliss. “They want the ball, they want to do the batting.”

As for being without Stokes, the Australian coach added: “Obviously it’s something we would have liked to have not been happening.”

Nevertheless, Bayliss was confident Stokes’s court case would not distract England.

“I’ve got no concerns about it — Ben has no concerns about it (either),” he said.

England unsurprisingly called up all-rounder Chris Woakes in Stokes’s place on Sunday.

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But new England selection chief Ed Smith has overseen several bold choices since taking charge at the start of the season and the inclusion of uncapped batsman Ollie Pope, like Curran a 20-year-old Surrey rising star, in a 13-man squad for Lord’s continued that trend.

Pope replaced Dawid Malan, the Middlesex left-hander dropped after a run of low scores.

England’s top order has long been a weakness, with the team failing to score 300 in either innings at Edgbaston.

The only consolation for England was that 300 proved beyond India as well, despite Virat Kohli, the tourists’ captain, scoring 200 runs in the match, including a superb first-innings 149.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a concern … losing plenty of wickets in quick succession,” admitted Bayliss.

“(But) the four innings, there were wickets falling left, right and centre.

“All batters were in trouble — even Kohli, who I don’t think was all that comfortable early on,” he added.

Kohli appears to hold the key to the series, mainly because of concerns about how India’s other batsmen will play swing bowling.

But Bayliss said England were in a similar position as he cited their struggles against the off-spin of Ravichandran Ashwin.

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“We’ve got a few guys who are not necessarily cemented in the team — and that puts extra pressure on people like Root, (Jonny) Bairstow and those guys to make the big scores,” he said.

“I don’t think it’ll be any different for India.

“The way (Kohli) played (in the first Test) was high-class stuff.

“(But) if we can put pressure on the other batters in the team, that’s going to add to the pressure on him.

“When the ball’s moving, we’ve shown that a few of their guys do struggle against it.

“I’m sure that they’ll be going away working out how they can play it — as we’re working on how to play the off-spin.”

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