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Haseeb Hameed is likely to play for England as opener in the upcoming Test series against India Getty Images

In the midst to find an opening partner for Test skipper Alastair Cook since Andrew Strauss‘ retirement, England is ready to experiment with a batsman named Haseeb Hameed in the five-Test series against India. The 19-year old from Lancashire, after an impressive batting display in the previous county season, was selected for the Bangladesh tour and given another run for the forthcoming series against India. His inclusion for the two-Test series against Bangladesh was a surprising one, but another run for the gruelling Tests versus India must have done a world of good for the right-hander.

Hameed s selection was all thanks to Cook s recent partner in whites Alex Hales. With security issues hovering around England players, Hales denied to go to Bangladesh, which gave a surprise call to Hameed. With Hales withdrawing his name from the tour, this added woes to the selectors job. However, even if Hales would not have withdrawn his name from the series, he was expected to be dropped from the Test side, as he failed to prove himself as an efficient opening batsman. From 11 Tests as opener for England, Hales scored 573 runs at 27.28.

Since Strauss retirement from Tests, England have tried 10 opening batsmen to accompany Cook Hales, Nick Compton, Joe Root, Sam Robson, Michael Carberry, Adam Lyth, Moeen Ali, Jonathan Trott, Jos Buttler and latest one was Ben Ducket, who fulfilled this job of opening with Cook in the recently concluded Test series in Bangladesh.

England could not find a proper replacement after Strauss, and since then they have been struggling to fill the void. With Hales backing out, England Cricket Board (ECB) probably thought of going in with a new face. In this process, they came across a young sensation in county circuit named Hameed, who scored above 1,000 runs in his the latest season of Specsavers County Championship Division One for Lancashire. On the other hand, Lancashire has not produced any opening batsman for England after Michael Atherton, and Hameed may end this miserable run.

Hameed impressed himself as an opening batsman, when he scored a twin ton against Yorkshire in August this year. He scored 114 and an unbeaten 100 in the match, which he himself calls as his proudest achievement so far. He became the fifth youngest batsman from Lancashire to do so and first in Roses match.

After being included for the Bangladesh tour, Hameed made headlines and did rounds of interviews as well. Despite all the limelight, Captain Cook did not pick him in the playing XI in any of the Tests despite scoring an impressive fifty in second tour game.

Well, not being picked in the playing XI is nothing big for a teenager in his first tour, but the way things are going in the English team, Hameed is expected to make his debut soon in the five-Test series in India. Hameed should be wary of how much the tour will test his talent, temperament and skills.

Hameed s playing style

After watching several batting videos of him, it was observed that Hameed is not like the modern-day cricketers who believe in playing the aerial shots. He rather prefers keeping his shots grounded, given his strength. Even while facing short balls, Hameed either leaves the delivery or tries to push or flick the ball by using his wrist.

Haseeb Hameed ducks a short delivery during the tour match against BCB XI    AFP
Haseeb Hameed leaves a short delivery during the tour match against BCB XI AFP

Talking about his stance, he is well-balanced at the crease. He moves his feet according to the delivery, but is a better player on back foot. His cricketing heroes include legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar and in contemporary cricket, Virat Kohli and Joe Root.

Hameed follows an orthodox batting style, as he does not go for any rash shots. While watching his batting, it seems like Hameed has abundance of time to play his shots, and it s probably because of his habit of waiting for the ball till the last moment. He is among those batsman who likes to play with soft hands. Also, he has a solid defence that earned him the nickname of Bolton Blocker in the county circuit (also, he completed his education from Bolton School).

How he will fare in India

If he gets to play in India, it will be tough job for him, for he hasn t faced such quality spin-bowling. Yes, he has faced the likes of Adil Rashid and Gareth Batty, but they are not big turners of the ball such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja.

It will be a herculean task for the young lad to keep his head high against the quality of spin on offer. For that matter, maintaining consistency will be a tough ask.

Also, let us not forget that the Indian team has the tendency to give a blistering start to a debutant. Hence, one should expect him to impress and score big runs in the series, despite facing the might of Indian spinners.

Hameed s First-Class strike rate reads 38.60. Thought it may not be impressive, it is an indication that the youngster likes to stay for long at the crease. One of the main reasons for maintaining such low strike rate is that he likes to put a price on his wicket. Staying for long is difficult, but churning out runs is vital as well.

It will be interesting to see how Hameed sticks around against Indian spinners. If he does so, England s opening-pair conundrum will be put to rest for a while.

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with CricLife and CricketCountry.com. He can be followed at @abhik2593)