England have included wicketkeeper-batter Jos Buttler and off-spinner Jack Leach in their squad for the fifth and final Test of the series against India. The home team will look to stage a comeback in the Manchester Test after a thumping loss of 157 runs at The Oval.
Buttler made himself unavailable for the fourth Test due to the birth of his second child. Meanwhile, Leach was part of the team for the first two Tests but was released to play county cricket for Somerset. The off spinner's return to the England side suggests that the team might play him at Old Trafford, which is known to assist the spinners. But it remains to be seen who England drop for the Test.
In all the probability, the likely candidate looks like Moeen Ali, who had a mixed outing at The Oval Test. But the hosts' reluctance in playing spinners is a known fact and England might be tempted to play two spinners and drop a pacer.
Meanwhile, Buttler is likely to replace Jonny Bairstow, who's averaging 26 in the series. Over the past two years, England have preferred Buttler over Bairstow in the red-ball format. On the other hand, Ollie Pope, who replaced Buttler is likely to retain his place after a solid 81 in the first inning. Mark Wood is also likely to return to the XI.
“Jos will be available for Old Trafford and yes, there will be a decision that has to be made so we’ll be making that over the next few days,” Silverwood said to Cricbuzz.
“I am going to keep my thoughts to myself for the moment, I am going to have sleep on it, and then I can obviously make decisions from there. Joe and I can have a talk and make a decision.”
England squad for the fifth Test: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood