Buttler to return for T20 matches in India

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England's Jos Buttler will return for the five Twenty20 Internationals in India

England's Jos Buttler will return for the five Twenty20 Internationals in India, as the Three Lions announced their squad on Thursday with an eye on this year's World Cup.

Buttler ended his Test tour after England won the opening match of the four-Test series in Chennai on Tuesday as part of the team's rest-and-rotate policy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The touring side, led by England's white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, will play five T20 matches in Ahmedabad starting March 12.

England selector Ed Smith said the matches would be key to his team's preparations for the T20 World Cup scheduled in India in October-November.

"We are full strength," Smith told reporters. "It is a very exciting year for England cricket and one of the things we are building towards is the T20 World Cup."

Buttler, who scored crucial runs in his team's 2-0 sweep in Sri Lanka last month, will be replaced by Ben Foakes as the team's wicketkeeper in the Tests.

Pundits have been surprised by England's rotation of players on a crucial India tour, but Smith said "player welfare is critical".

"We worked very closely with Jos on his schedule. Everyone felt that was the right thing to do, so there were no thoughts of a last minute U-turn," said Smith.

"I agree that Jos is integral to England's success across those formats. But player welfare is critical."

Joe Root's England will begin the second Test in Chennai starting Saturday, and finish off with the final match in Ahmedabad, set to begin on March 4.

But Root, who last played a T20 in May 2019, has been kept out of the 16-member T20 squad, which includes batsman Liam Livingstone.

"Nothing has changed with the position of Joe Root. Joe is one of England's greatest ever cricketers, that is clearer by the day, by the match," said Smith.

"That said, Joe has an incredibly busy year coming up. And it is also the case that England have won seven of the eight T20 series, with the eighth being a draw."

He added, "He also knows that if it turns out that he doesn't play in that T20 World Cup and no decisions have been made, he could easily come back in and it shows how strong a position England cricket is in."

Alex Hales remains out of favour despite his batting exploits for Sydney Thunder in the recent Big Bash T20 league.

Hales was taken out of the England one-day team ahead of the 2019 World Cup after he failed tests for recreational drug use.

"Maybe in English summer, we are always looking at ways to consider getting players who aren't in the actual squad to come along to training days, perhaps in the run up to a series," said Smith.

England will play three one-day internationals March 23, 26 and 28 to finish the tour. The ODI squad will be announced at a later date.

T20 Squad: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood

Reserves: Jake Ball, Matt Parkinson

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