England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced a 16-man squad for five-match Test series against India in early 2024 with Ben Stokes returning to lead the side. Stokes has begun rehab after the knee surgery and is confident of returning on January 25 when the Test series begins in India. England have added three uncapped players to the squad including pacer Gus Atkinson, who was part of the World Cup squad while leaving out the player of the series winner Chris Woakes has been left out.

Senior wicketkeeper batter Ben Foakes has been recalled probably considering how well he did behind the stumps on the 2021 tour to India. The other two uncapped players are spinner Tom Hartley, who made his ODI debut for England against Ireland and Somerset off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.

England are taking four spinners to India with Rehan Ahmed and Jack Leach being the other two while Joe Root will chip in as a part-time option. As far as pacers are concerned, Atkinson has

taken the now-retired Stuart Broad's place in the squad with James Anderson, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson all keeping their places.

The five-match series will be really crucial for England and probably do-or-die as far as their chances of qualification for the World Test Championship final are concerned. Having already lost 19 points out of the 28 earned, England are in dire straits as far as the WTC points table is concerned and as red-ball coach Brendon McCullum admitted, the India tour is as tough an away tour as it can get.

The series begins in Hyderabad on January 25 with the caravan set to move to Vizag, Rajkot, Ranchi and end with the final Test from March 7-11 in the picturesque Dharamsala.

England squad for India Tests: Ben Stokes (c), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Shoaib Bashir, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Tom Hartley, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Mark Wood
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