Aakash Chopra has said that the England team, led by Joe Root, will be weakened ahead of the Test series against India after star all-rounder Ben Stokes took an indefinite break from cricket. Chopra believes that Stokes' absence will benefit the Indian team a lot across the five Tests.
Ahead of the series, the England camp received a shock after their premier all-rounder Ben Stokes decided to take an indefinite break from cricket to prioritise his mental wellbeing, meaning he became unavailable for the Test series against India.
England lost their last Test series to New Zealand 1-0 and in that series they missed Stokes, who was then recovering from a finger injury, as the New Zealand seamers ran through an inexperienced middle-order. Stokes has been the lynchpin in England’s batting across the past 18 months, especially in red-ball cricket, and it was expected that his return would bolster the side ahead of the India Tests.
Thus Stokes' absence in the India Tests comes as a blow to the hosts, and former India cricketer Aakash Chopra is of the opinion that the all-rounder's absence has already weakened the Three Lions.
"The pressure will be a bit less on India and they might be able to dismiss the tail sooner. England will be a bit weakened even before the series has started," Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
Stokes has been invaluable for the England side both with the bat and ball. Since 2019, Stokes has accounted for 46 wickets at an average of 28.26, while he has averaged 43 with the bat. The 30-year-old has had match-winning showings with both bat and ball, and consistency across both facets of the game has seen him be ranked in the Top 2 of the all-rounder's rankings for the past two years. Chopra termed Stokes someone who is 'two players in one', and believes India will benefit the most from the all-rounder's unavailability.
"India will benefit a lot from Ben Stokes' absence. He is as good as two players in one. In Tests, he plays like a proper batsman coming in at No.5 or No.6 and has the ability to change the course of a match,” Chopra said.
“He is a wicket-taker with the ball and is also an excellent slip fielder. So his absence is good news for India," he added.