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England’s Buttler set to miss third Pakistan T20 with Moeen ready to lead
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England’s Buttler set to miss third Pakistan T20 with Moeen ready to lead

Jos Buttler is likely to miss England’s third T20 against Pakistan at Sophia Gardens on Tuesday after returning home to be with his wife before the imminent birth of their third child. Moeen Ali will lead a much-changed side should the predicted storm clouds clear in time for the game to go ahead.

England picked what they feel is their strongest XI for the game at Edgbaston on Saturday and were rewarded with victory by 23 runs, but indications are that for the third match of the series – the Headingley opener was lost to rain – they will field most of the players who missed out in Birmingham. That also allows them to rest Jofra Archer, who took two wickets on Saturday in his first international appearance in more than 14 months.

Archer took part in training on Monday, albeit at less than full intensity, and is expected to return to the side for the final game in the series, at the Oval on Thursday. “He’s going to be massive for us,” Will Jacks said.

“It’s great for all English fans, even cricket fans all over the world. Everyone wants to see him bowl. He’s been bowling at good speed in the nets, good speed in the middle, good yorkers at the death. He’s a massive asset.”

Buttler was named man of the match in Birmingham after scoring a 51-ball 84, but left the group before they travelled to Cardiff on Sunday. While management have not ruled him out of the game on Tuesday his return is unlikely, particularly with fore­casters predicting heavy rain for much of the day. The clouds are expected to clear in the evening, and should play be ­possible Tom Hartley is likely to make his international T20 debut, with Sam Curran and Mark Wood also coming into the side.

Buttler’s absence would force a change at the top of the batting order, with Bairstow, Jacks and Ben Duckett all able to deputise as opener alongside Phil Salt. Jacks has the advantage of having formed a successful opening partnership with Salt for Pretoria Capitals in South Africa’s SA20, but may prefer to continue his acclimatisation to a relatively unfamiliar role at No 3.

“Me and Phil, we’ve played a lot of cricket together which definitely helps when it comes to England,” Jacks said. “We understand each ­other’s games very well and we’re both that kind of free‑flowing top-order batsmen which everyone has nowadays.”

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Jacks has spent most of his T20 career as an opener but in his past seven internationals has come in at first drop, as he did during a successful spell with Royal Challengers ­Bengaluru at the Indian Premier League. “I kind of proved to myself I can do it at No 3,” he said. “Every time I bat there now I’m gaining more experience, learning new things and just building my repertoire of things I can do. I’m new to batting at No 3, I’m learning on the job. I’d like to think I’ve improved.”

Source: theguardian.com