CARDIFF: England one-day captain Eoin Morgan has refused to guarantee that Ben Stokes will jump straight into the side for Sunday’s T20I series decider against India in Bristol.
All-rounder Stokes missed the recent ODI series against Australia with a hamstring injury and has sat out the first two 20-over games against India.
Stokes rejoins the squad in Cardiff on Saturday after coming through an innings of 90 in 68 balls playing for Durham on Thursday.
Alex Hales recently said he thought his place was vulnerable when Stokes came back but he gave the selectors food for thought with his match-winning innings of 58 not out at Sophia Gardens which levelled the series up.
England insist Stokes has no injury worries and is fit for selection leaving Hales or Jake Ball, who made his T20I debut in Friday’s last-over five-wicket win facing exclusion.
“He comes into the squad for the next game and he is a fantastic player and it will be a difficult decision to make,” Morgan told reporters after the Cardiff win. “We have made calls like this in the past and we will make the call for the benefit of the team and put out our strongest XI.”
Morgan continued: “Alex always makes it difficult particularly in T20 cricket. He has played a lot of T20 for us and he is a very experienced campaigner. An innings like that gives him a pretty strong case for the next game. He really did play brilliantly. He has played a lot international T20 cricket and he has played a lot around the world. It was a mature innings. But we played better than we did at Old Trafford and the plans we had we committed to more. There was a lot more clarity in the shots that we played.”
But Hales and England’s other batsmen had been working on the bowling machine nicknamed Merlyn which they use to mimic bowlers’ actions and it paid off with Hales and the rest neutering Yadav who went wicketless.
Indian captain Virat Kohli said: “They did their homework and played really well. It changed the momentum in the middle overs and that was the difference.”