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'Baby Boycott' to make England Test debut

Press AssociationPress Association 8/11/2016

Haseeb Hameed will become England's youngest opening batsman when he makes his debut in the first Test against India - and for him the occasion cannot come soon enough.

The 19-year-old has been chosen as Alastair Cook's latest opening partner - the 10th since Andrew Strauss retired four years ago - and the captain predicts he's here to stay.

"(Hameed) is incredibly unflappable. He looks a very good player of spin. He picks length well and uses the crease well," Cook said ahead of the match that starts in Rajkot on Wednesday.

On the evidence of just 20 first-class matches so far, the teen from Bolton has already been dubbed "Baby Boycott" because of his studied technique and aversion to risk at the top of the order.

The Lancashire youngster is undaunted by what he agrees is perhaps the biggest challenge in cricket - trying to get a foothold for England against the world's No.1 team and their table-topping bowler, Ravi Ashwin.

"I see it as an exciting challenge. It's nothing to be afraid of," he said.

"I'm 19, coming up against the best bowler in the world and the best team in the world.

"We do come into the series as underdogs and this is probably the biggest challenge in cricket right now, coming to India and beating them, but we've prepared well and it's time to crack on now."

England begin the series after a jolting collapse to defeat, losing all 10 wickets in under a session, in their last Test against Bangladesh.

But Hameed insists they have the personnel and the belief to push for series victory during the next six weeks - as Cook's England did on their last trip four years ago.

Hameed joins Cook as opener after Ben Duckett, who opened for England in the drawn series in Bangladesh, was dropped down the order to replace the axed Gary Ballance at No.4.

Hameed, whose family roots are in India, will be England's fifth-youngest Test cricketer at 19 years and 297 days and the youngest since Ben Hollioake played against Australia in 1997.

Hollioake, who was also 19 when he featured at Trent Bridge, is the only other teenager to appear in a Test for England since 18-year-old Brian Close made his debut in 1949.

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