Buttler and Woakes return for third India Test

England captain Cook says only question is whether to go with four seamers and two spinners or three and three again

Gulf News

Mohali: Batsman Jos Buttler will replace the struggling Ben Duckett in the third Test against India starting on Saturday, despite having just one first-class match under his belt in the past year.

England skipper Alastair Cook also confirmed fast bowler Chris Woakes will return to the side for the game in Mohali after missing the second Test in Visakhapatnam which the visitors lost by a huge 246-run margin to go down 1-0 in the five-match series.

Woakes will replace Stuart Broad, who strained a tendon in his right foot in Visakhapatnam.

“Stuart’s definitely out,” Cook told reporters on Friday as his side looked to bounce back in the marathon series.

“Chris Woakes who was part of that rotation is definitely in and it’s just a question of whether we go with four seamers and two spinners or three and three again,” Cook said.

Left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari, who suffered from sickness and back spasms in the second Test, is still not fit to play.

Middle-order batsman Buttler, who also keeps wicket in the shorter formats, last played a Test in October 2015, against Pakistan in the UAE.

Buttler averaged 30 in his 15 Tests but his strike-rate of 120.29 in ODIs and 140.18 in Twenty20s make him a top contender for a slot in the longest format.

“Jos is an extremely talented cricketer and we’ve all seen that in the one-day and Twenty20 format,” Cook said.

“He’s right up there with the best short-form players in the world and he’s earned an opportunity to come and play here.”

Duckett managed 18 in the first two matches after falling to India’s premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in his three innings.

But Cook defended the batsman, calling it just a small bump in the batsman’s career.

“Ben (Duckett) won’t be the only good player who has been dropped,” Cook said.

“He has an England future, there’s no doubt about it, because he’s a very talented guy with a lot ahead of him.”

Cook also said that Jonny Bairstow will continue to keep wicket in the longer format with Buttler playing as a specialist batsman.

“There was no temptation to give Jos the gloves back. I think Jonny’s been outstanding and has settled in that role and done very well,” he added.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli said he was surprised that it had taken so long for England to bring Buttler back into the mix for Test matches.

“I was actually quite surprised to see him being left out after a couple of bad runs. I think he’s a very talented player and can do really well for England,” said Kohli.

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