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Bairstow misses out as unchanged England promote Stokes

13 November 2018 14:40

England have made the tough call to leave Jonny Bairstow out and name an unchanged team for the second Test against Sri Lanka, which starts on Wednesday.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow missed the first match of the series, a game England won impressively by 211 runs in Galle, after suffering an ankle injury during the limited-overs leg of the tour.

His absence offered an opportunity to Ben Foakes, who marked his international debut by scoring a century in the first innings while also impressing with his work behind the stumps.

Captain Joe Root had already announced Foakes would retain his place but Bairstow - who averages 37.19 in his Test career - has also missed out on selection as a frontline batsman in Pallekele, with England opting to go with the same XI.

"Having had a good look at the surface today, we feel the side that won the first Test will give us the best opportunity for us to get something out of this Test," Root said on the eve of the match.

"The surface is dry and it will spin. The balance of the team is ideal for these conditions. We can also adapt, if the situation dictates, as we showed in Galle."

Root confirmed the fit-again Bairstow was available and, despite being left out on this occasion, still remains an "integral" part of the team's plans.

"[Coach] Trevor [Bayliss] and I have spoken to him about finding the right balance for this Test with the conditions we are expecting," he added.

"He understands the situation and is aware that we have to pick the side that are best suited to conditions we can expect. It is unfortunate that he missed out through injury in the first Test.

"He is an integral part of our plans and is a key member of our core squad and his experience around the group is important."

However, while it will be the same XI on duty, England's skipper revealed there will be alterations to the batting order, with Ben Stokes pushed up to number three and Jos Buttler to come in at five, one spot ahead of the demoted Moeen Ali.

"We are in a fortunate position that many in the side could bat in that position," Root said. 

"Ben's technique is sound and he will be able to adapt to this role. He is one of the fittest guys in the side, so the intensity of batting in the top order and bowling as one of our three seamers will not faze him.

"If we feel that he has done a tremendous workload with the ball, then we can adapt and alter the order if it's necessary, but I don't expect that to happen.

"Ben is relishing the added responsibility of doing a job at three."

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