Top orders to be tested as England face India without Stokes
England's Joe Root (L) chats with Ben Stokes (R)
LONDON - Batsmen on both sides are set to face a stiff examination when an England team without Ben Stokes face India in the first Test in Nottingham starting on Wednesday.
Although England captain Joe Root boasts an impressive Test average of 48.68, the next best in his side belongs to opener Rory Burns, with 33.23.
Zak Crawley in particular has seen his Test returns decline dramatically since making a brilliant 267 against Pakistan, with a mere 123 runs in 12 subsequent innings.
Following England's 1-0 series loss to New Zealand in June -- their first home campaign reverse in seven years -- former captain Alastair Cook said the current top order "can't handle" the pressure of Test cricket.
There are worries too about India's batsmen ahead of a five-match campaign that comes 50 years after the tourists' first series win in England.
India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli has not scored a Test hundred in nearly two years, while opener Mayank Agarwal was ruled out of the first Test with suspected concussion after being hit on the head batting in the nets on Monday.
Cheteshwar Pujara, meanwhile, averages under 30 in England.
And Ajinkya Rahane, since kick-starting India's stunning revival during their eventual series win in Australia last year with 112 in Melbourne, has passed fifty just once in 13 subsequent Test innings.……
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