National selector Ed Smith says Jonny Bairstow understands why he has not been included in the England squad for the first half of their Test series against India.

Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood have been rested for the opening two matches of a series that gets underway at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on February 5.

Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns return, while Ollie Pope will be added to a 16-man squad when he has fully recovered from a shoulder operation.

The squad was named on the eve of a second Test versus Sri Lanka which England will start looking to secure a 2-0 series whitewash.

Batsman Bairstow made 47 and an unbeaten 35 in a seven-wicket win for the tourists in Galle last week after being recalled for a first Test appearance since facing South Africa at the end of 2019.

Smith explained that the decision to omit Bairstow was taken to ensure he has enough time off with such a hectic schedule to come this year, including the T20 World Cup in India.

"I spoke at length to Jonny yesterday, as well as at Loughborough before the Sri Lankan tour," Smith said.

"[I said to Bairstow he has] a fantastic opportunity coming up in Sri Lanka, where we expect you to get game time. But at some point, as is the case with the other multi-format players, you're going to need your rest too, and he completely understands that and endorses it."

Smith added: "Whenever you take rest there's always a downside. These guys, Jonny included, love playing for England, but they also understand that they need their rest, so there's always two sides to it.

"But it felt right for Jonny to take his break now, because obviously he's a key part of the white-ball set-up, so that he can continue on with that when he comes back into the Test squad, as we build towards a very important cycle in the T20s, with the World Cup in the autumn."

Smith was impressed with the impact Bairstow made on his return in the longest format.

"It was great to see Jonny looking very focused and clear in Test cricket. He was given lots of visibility ahead of time that he would be likely to bat three, playing as a batsman," he said.

"But over the long term, as I've said many times, I think Jonny is a highly talented player, and we know he brings a lot to the party and can play a number of different roles. That remains the case."

 

England squad for first two Tests against India: 

Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Reserves:

James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood have not been included in the England squad for the opening two Tests against India.

Batsman Bairstow, all-rounder Curran and paceman Wood have been rested and will fly home after the ongoing Test series in Sri Lanka along with quick Craig Overton.

Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns are back in the squad for a series that starts at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on February 5.

Fast bowler Archer and all-rounder Stokes did not travel to Sri Lanka as they were given a break, while opening batsman Burns stayed at home for the birth of his first child.

Batsman Ollie Pope will fly out to India and be added to a 16-man squad when he has fully recovered from a shoulder operation.

The national selectors have also named six travelling reserves, three of which are spinners, for the series against an India side on a high from a dramatic 2-1 victory in Australia.

 

England squad for first two Tests against India: 

Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.

Reserves:

James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

England have rested Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes for the two-Test tour to Sri Lanka in January, while there is a recall for Jonny Bairstow.

All-rounder Stokes is not involved following the recent death of his father, Ged, while paceman Archer is given a break following a busy year.

Both players will return to Test duty in February against India, with England's squad planning to fly directly to Chennai from Colombo ahead of that four-match series.

Opening batsman Rory Burns is another absentee from the 16-man group travelling to Sri Lanka; he will remain at home for the birth of his first child.

As for those that do make the trip, Bairstow is involved again having not played in the longest format since the first Test of the series against South Africa in December 2019.

The right-handed batsman averages 34.74 in his Test career with six centuries, including scoring 110 against Sri Lanka in Colombo just over two years ago when batting at number three in the order.

There is a place for uncapped Essex batsman Dan Lawrence too, while Moeen Ali, Dom Bess and Jack Leach provide spin options in the party.

England depart on January 2 for Hambantota, where the squad will prepare for action. Both Tests are to be staged in Galle.

Ollie Pope - who is still recovering from shoulder surgery - will join the party to continue his rehab work ahead of the tour to India, while a seven-man group of reserves has been announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board.


England Test squad: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Reserves: James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

Jonny Bairstow hit his highest Twenty20 International score as England defeated South Africa by five wickets in the first game of their three-match series.

Faf du Plessis got 58 as South Africa posted a competitive total of 179-6 after England won the toss and elected to bowl at Newlands on Friday.

A successful run chase was looking unlikely for the tourists by the time they fell to 34-3 in the sixth over, but Bairstow scored 86 not out from just 48 balls in a superb innings.

After dropping down to number four in the order, Bairstow hit nine fours and four sixes, sealing victory with four deliveries to spare with a huge maximum.

Ben Stokes (37) provided good support as England took a big step towards winning a third consecutive T20I series against South Africa, who are playing their first international cricket since March.

The second match is in Paarl on Sunday before the series concludes back in Cape Town next Tuesday.

CAPTAIN AND FORMER SKIPPER SET UP PROTEAS

England made a good start with the Proteas only mustering 12 runs from the first three overs.

But a six from captain Quinton de Kock off Jofra Archer (1-28) sparked 38 runs in just two overs to kick-start the South Africa innings and he went on to build a partnership of 77 with former skipper Du Plessis.

Chris Jordan (1-40) ultimately removed De Kock for 30 and then claimed a catch at deep square leg to end the 40-ball innings of Du Plessis.

But by that point South Africa were 110-3 and a platform had been set for Rassie van der Dussen (37) to keep up the pace.

BAIRSTOW BOOSTS ENGLAND

Stokes made an astonishing Test-best 258 in Cape Town in January 2016 and Bairstow also shone in that game, scoring a maiden Test ton.

The duo impressed again by putting on a crucial 85 partnership, but Bairstow still had plenty to do when Stokes holed out to long on off the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi (1-27).

After Eoin Morgan (12) made a slow start, England suddenly needed 55 from 25 but Bairstow hit six of his side's eight boundaries from there in an impressive finish.

LINDE AND SAM CURRAN IMPRESS

It was a good T20I debut for South Africa's George Linde, who hit a quickfire 12 from six balls with the bat before taking 2-20, including the early wicket of Jason Roy (0), plus a key catch to remove Stokes.

While Tom Curran (1-55) struggled, Sam was the pick of the England bowlers, with figures of 3-28 from his four overs and the crucial wicket of Du Plessis.

He later hit a six with the bat in the penultimate over to help settle the tourists' nerves after Morgan's dismissal.

Eoin Morgan is unsure of England's best side ahead of the Twenty20 International series against South Africa with the luxury of having such strength in depth.

The tourists and the Proteas start at three-match T20 series at Newlands on Friday, less than a year before they go in search of T20 World Cup glory in India.

England have taken a star-studded squad to South Africa, with Morgan among a strong contingent to have recently plied their trade in the Indian Premier League.

The in-form batsman, who led England to World Cup glory in the 50-over format last year, feels fortunate to have so much talent to call upon.

"The honest answer is we don't know our best 11 yet," Morgan said. "There are probably seven or eight guys who are pretty strong candidates to be in our playing 11, but the strength of the squad that we've selected, and the reserves that we have here, has made our full-strength side available for selection for the first time in a long time. That makes it very exciting.

"Winning at the moment would be great, but the process of going through what's best for our team and best for our players, to try and beat the opposition is extremely important," he added.

South Africa also have star men coming into the series, which is their first since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, on the back of outstanding performances in the IPL.

They will be without two unnamed players who are self-isolating, but in good health, after testing positive for COVID-19 and South African cricket has been in the headlines far too often due to administration issues.

Yet Proteas skipper Quinton de Kock said: "It's a fresh start. The guys are keen to play. It's been a while since we've played for the Proteas.

"The guys are keen to change what has been going on around cricket. We're the leaders and we'll try to lead from the front. The guys are keen to get going."

South Africa will be without all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius due to a hamstring injury.


DE KOCK, RABADA AND ARCHER HOPING TO REPEAT IPL EXPLOITS

Wicketkeeper-batsman De Kock will be on a high after playing a big part in another IPL triumph for the Mumbai Indians.

He was the sixth-highest run-scorer in a thrilling tournament with 503 at an average of 35.92 at the top of the order, making four half-centuries and smashing 22 sixes.

Proteas paceman Kagiso Rabada was the leading wicket-taker in the competition for beaten finalists Delhi Capitals, claiming 30 scalps at 18.26 apiece.

England quick Jofra Archer also showed he is one of the best bowlers in the world, striking 20 times and showing his ability to be classed as an all-rounder with some entertaining knocks.

South Africa fast bowler Anrich Nortje also impressed in the United Arab Emirates along with Faf du Plessis and England skipper Morgan.

 

STOKES PRIMED FOR ANOTHER CAPE TOWN CLASSIC?

England all-rounder Ben Stokes arrived late at the IPL, having been given time to spend time with his family in New Zealand after his father, Ged, was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Stokes made the second-highest score of the tournament with a magnificent 107 not out from only 60 balls to seal a stunning victory for the Rajasthan Royals over champions Mumbai.

He returns to England duty after leaving the squad to head to New Zealand during the Test series against Pakistan in August and will be back in action at a world-famous venue where he produced one of his finest performances.

Stokes made an astonishing Test-best 258 off 198 balls in a drawn second Test in Cape Town in January 2016, smashing the Proteas attack to all parts.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS 

- The tourists are looking to secure a third successive T20 series win over the Proteas, having beaten them earlier this year and in 2017.
- England have won five of their last seven games against South Africa in the shortest format.
- South Africa have won both of their T20 matches against England at Newlands, but have come out on top in only 33 per cent of all matches at the venue in the shortest format.
- England have the lowest catching success rate of any Test-playing nation in T20s since the start of 2019 (76 per cent). 
- Only Pakistan captain Babar Azam (53 – 25 innings) has a higher batting average as an opener in T20Is than England's Jos Buttler (51 – 11 innings) among those to record 10 or more knocks at the top of the order. Buttler has posted scores of 57, 44 and 77 not out in his last three T20 appearances, all of which came as an opener.

England have rested Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Ben Stokes for the one-day series against South Africa, though the trio are included in the Twenty20 squad. 

With a potentially busy schedule to come, Rajasthan Royals duo Archer and Stokes, along with Chennai Super Kings all-rounder Curran will get a well-earned break when England take on the Proteas in three 50-over fixtures in early December. 

Those games follow on from a trio of T20 internationals between the countries as part of a tour cleared to proceed by the South African government amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Jos Buttler has also been on duty at the IPL for the Royals yet the wicketkeeper-batsman – England's vice-captain in white-ball cricket - is set to be involved in both formats. 

Reece Topley is in the 20 and 50-over squads too, the left-arm paceman having featured in the one-day series against Ireland on home soil earlier this year, his first international appearance in over four years. 

There are also places for Lewis Gregory, Liam Livingstone and Olly Stone in a 15-man ODI party, along with Test captain Joe Root and fellow World Cup winner Chris Woakes. 

However, Tom Banton has been left out. The batsman is instead on a three-man reserve list alongside Jake Ball and Tom Helm. 

England's players and staff are to depart on November 16 and will play two intra-squad practice matches before the first T20 contest on November 27.

All games will be played behind closed doors as the tourists base themselves in a bio-secure bubble in Cape Town. Newlands will be one of the venues used, along with Boland Park in nearby Paarl. 

 

England Twenty20 squad

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.

England ODI squad

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Lewis Gregory, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Reece Topley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Pat Cummins took four wickets after Eoin Morgan blasted a half-century as Kolkata Knight Riders kept their play-off hopes alive and ended Rajasthan Royals' Indian Premier League season with a 60-run victory.

Both sides needed an emphatic win in their last match of the regular season to stay in the hunt for a place in the last four and it was KKR who delivered.

Morgan's side are up to fourth and must now wait for the outcome of the clashes between Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday and Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians the following day to see if they qualify.

England ODI captain Morgan top scored with 68 not out off 35 balls to get the Knight Riders up to 191-7 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Shubman Gill (36) and Rahul Tripathi (39) also chipped in, while Rahul Tewatia was the pick of the bowlers with 3-25 and Jofra Archer (1-19) was outstanding yet again.

The Royals could only muster 131-9 in reply, paceman Cummins doing the bulk of the damage with 4-34.

Defeat for Steve Smith's men leaves them bottom of the table despite a late resurgence, Shivam Mavi and Varun Chakravarthy taking two wickets apiece as they fell well short of their victory target.

MORGAN GIVES STOKES A TASTE OF HIS OWN MEDICINE

Gill and Tripathi put on 72 for the second wicket in eight overs after Archer had Nitish Rana caught behind for a golden duck in the first over.

Tewatia got rid of Gill and Sunil Narine in a ninth over that went for just six runs, but skipper Morgan flexed his muscles in dewy conditions and Andre Russell smashed 25 off 11 balls.

Ben Stokes had a day to forget, Morgan hitting his England team-mate for back-to-back sixes in a penultimate over that cost 24 runs, with the left-hander – who cleared the rope six times – also setting about Shreyas Gopal.

RAPID CUMMINS RATTLES ROYALS

The Royals needed their key men such as Stokes and Smith to fire, but their tournament was all-but over when they were 41-5 at the end of the powerplay.

Cummins steamed through the top order, removing Robin Uthappa, Stokes, Smith and Riyan Parag.

Jos Buttler made 35 and Tewatia 31 but Rajasthan were never going to recover from Australia paceman Cummins' devastating early hostile burst.

Rajasthan Royals came through a six-hitting onslaught from Chris Gayle to beat Kings XI Punjab, keeping them firmly in contention for the Indian Premier League play-offs. 

Gayle surpassed 1,000 career maximums in Twenty20 cricket - the first player to reach that number - before being dismissed for 99, bowled by Jofra Archer (2-26).

The left-hander's wonderful 63-ball knock, coupled with a late cameo from fellow West Indian Nicholas Pooran (22), powered Kings XI to 185-4. 

However, the Royals overhauled that total with seven wickets in hand, moving them level with their fourth-placed opponents on 12 points as the round-robin stage draws towards a close. 

Ben Stokes led the way in the chase with a 26-ball 50 at the top of the order, while Sanju Samson made 48 and Rajasthan skipper Steve Smith finished up unbeaten on 31. 

Jos Buttler hurried his team to their target with two late sixes as he made 22 not out from 11 deliveries, the Royals clinching victory thanks to a Chris Jordan wide midway through the 18th over. 

 

GAYLE LAUNCHES INTO ROYALS

There was to be no 23rd T20 century for Gayle, though the 41-year-old still reached a notable milestone during his innings. He boosted his career sixes total with eight more on Friday, including one off Archer in the 20th over that took him to 1,001.

However, the bowler got his revenge with the next ball, aided by a deflection off bat and pad. Gayle threw his bat after falling just short, then shared a handshake with Archer before departing.

ROYALS RUNNING INTO FORM

Having returned figures of 2-32 with the ball, Stokes gave Rajasthan's reply the early impetus it required. His half-century here followed on from an unbeaten 107 against Mumbai Indians last time out.

The England international appears to be coming into form at the perfect time for the Royals, though they still remain outside the top four in the table. They have one game remaining - against fellow play-off hopefuls Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday - and the fight to qualify could well come down to net run-rate.

Ben Stokes plundered a glorious century to help Rajasthan Royals chase down Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League on Sunday. 

The England all-rounder was in imperious form in Abu Dhabi, hitting an unbeaten 107 off 60 balls to keep the Royals – who had started the day bottom of the table – in the play-off picture. 

Mumbai, who remain top, had the chance to seal a play-off spot of their own with a win and they put themselves in a commanding position with a total of 195-5. 

Hardik Pandya was the star of their innings, striking an unbeaten 60 off 21 balls. His knock, which included seven sixes and two fours, was the fourth-fastest of this season's IPL. 

Mumbai opener Ishan Kishan went for 37 in spectacular circumstances, with Stokes' England team-mate Jofra Archer taking an acrobatic one-handed catch by the boundary.

The Indians might have thought they had done enough to secure an eighth win in 11 games this season but Stokes and Sanju Samson had other ideas, the pair putting on a third-wicket stand of 152 from 82 balls to take the Royals home with 10 balls to spare 

Rajasthan move up to sixth in the table with 10 points from their 12 games, while the result condemns Chennai Super Kings, who had thumped Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier in the day, to elimination. 

STOKES FINALLY ARRIVES IN THIS SEASON'S IPL  

Stokes had struggled to make an impact in the IPL before his match-winning turn on Sunday, scoring just 110 runs off 103 balls in this season's competition. The 29-year-old said he felt in confident mood ahead of Sunday's game thanks to a positive training session a day earlier. 

"I'm a bit taken aback by why it's taken me so long to get into the tournament for the team," he said. "To be honest, the training I've had yesterday was the best I had throughout my time here, so I came into this with a bit of confidence. It was coming on nicely."

ARCHER PLAYS HIS PART

Archer set the stage for Stokes' heroics with a fine display in the field. His catch from Kishan was a thing of beauty, while he also removed Quinton de Kock and Saurabh Tiwary on six and 34 respectively. 

Rajasthan Royals returned to winning ways in the Indian Premier League, producing a stunning late onslaught to down the Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets in Dubai. 

The Royals appeared in danger of suffering a fifth straight loss when, replying to Hyderabad's total of 158-4, they were left needing 54 from the final four overs in their run chase. 

However, Rahul Tewatia and Riyan Parag combined to see their team home with a delivery to spare, the latter sealing victory with a towering six over cover. 

Tewatia, though, had crucially gone after Hyderabad's key bowler in Rashid Khan, the leg-spinner's final over - the 18th of the innings - leaking 14, as he smashed 45 off 28 deliveries.  

Parag finished up unbeaten on 42 from 26 as an unbroken stand worth 85 covered for the failures of the big names at the top of the order, including the returning Ben Stokes. 

The England all-rounder had earlier sent down just a solitary over as the Sunrisers set a competitive target thanks to contributions from captain David Warner (48) and Manish Pandey, who made 54. 
 

STOKES BACK, BUT ARCHER HITS THE SPOT 

It was a low-key comeback to cricket for Stokes. Having not played since August for family reasons, he made six from five balls as an opener for the Royals when batting alongside Jos Buttler (16).

Instead, it was Jofra Archer who was the top-performing England player in action. He bowled a seriously quick over up front to international team-mate Jonny Bairstow, then returned later in the innings to emphatically clean up Warner as the Sunrisers skipper looked to cut loose. 

TEWATIA TURNS THE TABLES 

It seemed the Sunrisers were set to prevail having knocked over the Royals' top order cheaply, including running out Steve Smith for five. 

Yet Tewatia had other ideas, particularly when it came the pivotal over from Rashid. Having gone for just 12 from his previous three, the Afghanistan bowler was the subject of two outrageous reverse sweeps, both of which went to the boundary. 

Ben Stokes is on his way to the United Arab Emirates to link up with the Rajasthan Royals squad for the remainder of the Indian Premier League.

The England all-rounder missed the start of the tournament after heading to New Zealand to spend time with his family following his father Ged's brain cancer diagnosis.

Stokes has been in his country of birth since being given permission to leave the England squad following the victory over Pakistan in the first Test at Old Trafford early in August.

The 29-year-old said his "head wasn't in it" during that win in Manchester after he discovered his father's diagnosis.

Stokes is now set to return to action in the IPL once he has undergone the mandatory six-day quarantine following his arrival in Dubai.

He posted pictures of himself on Instagram with his family on Saturday with a caption of "Goodbye's [sic] never get easier."

The Royals then tweeted: "Hi guys, quick question. How long does it take from Christchurch to UAE?" followed by a picture of Stokes on a plane.

Sam Curran replaced Jofra Archer as one of two changes to England's line-up for the second Test against Pakistan.

With James Anderson's place in the side having all but been confirmed on Wednesday, it was Archer – struggling to replicate the form he showed in 2019 – who made way for Curran.

Ben Stokes was already a guaranteed absentee after he left the squad on Sunday to travel to New Zealand for family reasons, with Zak Crawley replacing the all-rounder.

In Stokes' absence, England captain Joe Root elected to give seamer Curran an opportunity to build on some impressive performances against West Indies while also adding extra depth to England's batting order.

"I think more than anything it was to lengthen our batting, with Ben missing out making sure we had that depth there," Root told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.

"Also, Sam's record in England is fantastic and he deserves an opportunity. It gives Jofra a chance to rest up and be fully fit for the next game."

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first in sweltering conditions at the Rose Bowl, though Root believed England's swing bowlers could exploit the humid conditions.

"We would have batted first as well, but it's muggy and we've got a very good swing attack," Root said.

"We're looking forward to exploiting these conditions early and hopefully getting some wickets. Getting the first go at it isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially coming on the back of our bowling at Old Trafford."

There was just one change for Pakistan, with Fawad Alam earning his first Test appearance since 2009.

"He's been scoring lots of runs in first-class cricket. He's been patient for a long time," Pakistan captain Azhar Ali said.

"Seasoned character, seasoned player and waiting for this opportunity for a long time. He has all the potential."

Pakistan will look to capitalise on the "huge loss" of Ben Stokes from the England side by taking advantage of a lighter middle order, says bowling coach Waqar Younis.

Stokes withdrew from the rest of the series, which England lead 1-0 after a three-wicket win at Old Trafford, to travel to New Zealand for family reasons.

The world's top Test all-rounder had initially been limited to the role of specialist batsman for the first Test because of a thigh injury but came on to bowl in the second innings to help England dismiss the tourists for 169 with the wickets of Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

England improbably chased down 277 to win, though Stokes was not a major factor in that pursuit as he followed a first-innings duck with nine in the second innings.

However, captain Joe Root is under no illusion as to the impact of his absence, telling a media conference: "It's a huge loss for us. For a long period of time, he's been arguably our best player.

"He offers so much in all departments. He's a big leader within the group - vice-captain, as well - and, of course, we'll miss him dearly.

"We're all thinking about him. But it's an opportunity for someone to come in and try to fill those boots.

"That's always exciting for someone to take on that challenge. Whoever gets that responsibility has to try to step up to the plate and trust in their own game to help us hopefully get two up in the series."

Waqar does not necessarily see Stokes' exit from the series as a boost to the tourists given their bowling performance against him.

But with Zak Crawley expected to come into the side, he does see potential for Pakistan to have greater success against England's middle order.

"He's [Stokes] the kind of batsman that takes the game away from you single-handedly at times," said Waqar.

"I wouldn't say it's a boost because of the way we bowled at him in the previous game. I thought we had very clear plans and I think we executed really well.

"Yes he's not around, it's unfortunate for cricket but there's no doubt he's a match-winner. If he's not around, England will probably be a touch light when you talk about the middle order. We're going to talk about it and try to cash in."

Ben Stokes will play no further part in England's Test series against Pakistan for family reasons. 

Stokes, who captained the team in Joe Root's absence for the opener against West Indies in July, has featured in all four Tests played on home soil so far this year.

However, the 29-year-old – who has been struggling with an injury which restricted him to just four overs of bowling in the victory over Pakistan in Manchester – will not be available for the next two matches, which take place at the Rose Bowl. 

The all-rounder will instead be heading to New Zealand to spend time with his family, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced in a statement on a Sunday.

In December, Stokes' father, Ged, fell ill while attending England's tour of South Africa. 

While his father recovered in hospital after undergoing three operations, Stokes continued to play on for England, helping clinch a 3-1 series triumph over the Proteas. 

However, England - who went 1-0 up against Pakistan on Saturday - will now be without their vice-captain in Southampton. 

Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes were the heroes as the hosts chased down a target of 277 to secure a three-wicket triumph at Old Trafford.

Ben Stokes provided the spark as England stayed in the hunt for victory in a gripping first Test against Pakistan.

Picked just as a batsman for this match due to a niggling thigh injury, Stokes made a frustrating duck in England's first innings, but he stepped out of the slips to take the ball and pick up two prized Pakistan wickets.

Day three at Old Trafford ended with Pakistan on 137-8 in their second innings, 244 runs ahead of England.

However many more runs Pakistan add on Saturday morning, England will face a tough task to chase down their target, but they still have hope.

The home side had hope at the start of this day too, and they also had Ollie Pope, but England's new middle-order star added just 16 to his overnight score to be out for 62.

From a precarious 92-4 at the start of play, England were dismissed for an underwhelming 219, thankful again to Stuart Broad (29 not out) for some lusty lower-order hitting as the tail was soon exposed.

Pope fell to a scorching delivery from Naseem Shah, the ball leaping up off the pitch and catching the splice of the bat, arrowing low to Shadab Khan at gully.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah removed home captain Joe Root on day two and began to make his presence felt again, bowling Jos Buttler (38) and Chris Woakes (19) either side of having Dom Bess snaffled at slip by a leaping Asad Shafiq.

Fellow leg-spinner Shadab Khan had Jofra Archer caught behind off the glove, before pinning last man James Anderson lbw.

Armed with a 107-run first-innings lead, Pakistan found England's pace attack troubling, with Shan Masood following his first-innings 156 with a duck, nibbling at a ball slanting across him and down the leg side from Broad, clipping through to Buttler.

Bess had Abid Ali caught in the deep by Woakes, who then made a key impact himself by having Babar Azam taken at slip by Stokes and Azhar Ali trapped leg before.

Dom Sibley got rid of Asad Shafiq (29) with a smart run out, but Pakistan were beginning to stabilise when Stokes entered the attack.

He claimed a wicket with his eighth delivery when he got Mohammad Rizwan (27) out lbw, then Broad had Shadab Khan in the same manner.

And shortly after 19:00 local time (18:00 GMT) Stokes struck again, a short ball accounting for Shaheen Afridi, the batsman lobbing one up for Rory Burns to take a safe catch.

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