England have to do the hard way with an impromptu line-up to avoid a third-series defeat in India as Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone replace injured captain Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings.
- Morgan has a split band in his hand and will miss the rest of the series
- Billings will miss Friday’s second ODI after bruising his collarbone
- Vice Captain Buttler will act as Captain in the regular absence of Skipper Morgan
- Lancashire’s great Livingstone made its 50-over international debut
If England wants to win anything from an Indian tour that started with so much promise in a first Test victory, they have to do it the hard way.
They enter Friday’s second one-day international without captain Eoin Morgan and the desperately unfortunate Sam Billings, letting what looks like a decidedly improvised 50-over side facing India’s power a downside and very much opposed.
Jos Buttler will lead England in Morgan’s absence, while Lancashire’s big hitter Liam Livingstone makes his 50-over international debut. Dawid Malan has since been promoted to the full squad and also appears to be playing in Pune.
Jos Buttler will captain England against India on Friday in the absence of Eoin Morgan
Morgan was excluded from both Friday’s game and Sunday’s final game when the right hand he damaged in the first ODI, requiring four stitches in the tissue between his right thumb and index finger, failed a fitness test.
“I had recovered the hand before training, but I quickly found myself protecting the injury and getting in the wrong positions to catch the ball,” Morgan said. ‘There is nowhere to hide in international cricket, so I didn’t have to think long to exclude myself.
‘It was a bizarre injury and it is extremely frustrating, but there is nothing I can do about it. I have every confidence that Jos and the team will do without me. ‘
Lancashire’s big hit Liam Livingstone made his 50-over international debut
And Billings, who missed England’s World Cup triumph with a dislocated shoulder in 2019, faces a battle to be fit for Sunday’s final game after diving his collarbone into the Pune outfield in the opening 66-point defeat.
In any case, the latest blows, contributing to the unavailability of the injured Jofra Archer and the rested Joe Root and Chris Woakes, provide an opportunity for the exciting 27-year-old Livingstone.
The Cumbrian wrestled in two Twenty20 internationals against South Africa four years ago, but they came out when he was out of shape and Livingstone believes he’s a more mature player and person now that he’s gotten this second chance.
“I’m absolutely ready,” said Livingstone, who has also worked on his leg and off-spin bowling. ‘The first time was very different from now and I’ve been waiting for this for a while. This is not just any old team to enter – they are world champions. ‘
Eoin Morgan left the field with a hand injury sustained during the first ODI in Pune
England must now rethink its lineup, with Livingstone more suited to the middle order in 50-over cricket. That means he would pass on six or even seven, with Malan coming on three and Ben Stokes being pushed back down to Root’s position after just one match.
Morgan promised opportunities to all of his team players in this series, but Reece Topley and Matt Parkinson may now have to wait again unless England comes by a surprise and plays an extra bowler in place of Malan.
England are trying to win their first series of this long tour after losing in Tests 3-1 and in the T20 matches 3-2. And they will be replaced by India at the top of the 50-over world rankings if they lose it 3-0.
Sam Billings receives treatment after bruising his collarbone in the defeat on Tuesday