Keaton Jennings will make his England debut in Thursday's (8 December) fourth Test against India, Alastair Cook has confirmed. The Johannesburg-born Durham batsman is set to open alongside his captain at the Wankhede Stadium as a replacement for Haseeb Hameed, the 19-year-old Lancashire prodigy who impressively scored 59 not out during the second innings of last month's eight-wicket defeat in Mohali despite sustaining a broken little finger on his left hand.
Hameed temporarily returned home to undergo surgery on a finger that coach Trevor Bayliss described as being in "two pieces", while Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson also joined the squad with Sussex spinner Zafar Ansari suffering from a back problem.
Jennings, a former South African U19 skipper, led the way in Division One of the 2016 County Championship by scoring 1,548 runs at an average of 64.5 and will now step up after notching an unbeaten 101 for the England Lions in their recent eight-wicket win over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai.
"He is going to play," Cook, whose side trail the five-match series 2-0, was quoted as saying by Sky Sports on Wednesday. "He is going to open the batting – another great opportunity for a guy...He's in good touch, has spent some time in the middle for the Lions – making a hundred – and it is a very special day for him tomorrow."
Cook also rated Stuart Broad's chances of returning to action in Mumbai at "50/50". The 30-year-old strained a tendon in his right foot during the 246-run second Test loss in Visakhapatnam and subsequently missed the third contest. He is not believed to have bowled during practice today and a decision will be taken on his fitness over the next 12 hours. In his absence, England can choose to hand spinner Dawson his debut or else opt for pacemen Steven Finn or Jake Ball.
As for India, Ajinkya Rahane has been ruled out of both the upcoming match in Mumbai and the fifth and final Test in Chennai after suffering an avulsion fracture to his right index finger during a net session. Karnataka'sManish Pandey has been called up as a replacement. Right-arm paceman Shardul Thakur has also been added to the squad amid concerns over Mohammed Shami's ongoing knee issue.
On Shami's availability for the fourth Test, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) statement read: "The medical team is closely monitoring his progress, and a decision on his participation will be taken before the start of the fourth Test match."