Yashasvi Jaiswal scored a brisk 68 as Rajasthan Royals returned to winning ways in the Indian Premier League with a six-wicket victory over Punjab Kings.

The Kings slipped to three defeats in their last five games as their playoff credentials came into question, but Mayank Agarwal's side managed to post a competitive 189-5 at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

Jonny Bairstow anchored the Punjab innings with 56 from 40 deliveries before being removed by Yuzvendra Chahal (3-28), who also picked up the wickets of Bhanuka Rajapaksa (27) and Agarwal (15).

Liam Livingstone (22) and Jitesh Sharma, who blasted 38 off just 18 balls, provided the Kings with late impetus, but their total seemed insufficient when the in-form Jos Buttler led the early response.

The England international smashed 30 off 16 but was caught off Kagiso Rabada's bowling (1-50), while Jaiswal and Sanju Samson (23) continued the charge before the latter was dismissed by Rishi Dhawan (1-25).

Jaiswal ensured the Royals were firmly in control, requiring a further 49 to win when he departed to Arshdeep Singh (2-29), who also claimed the wicket of Devdutt Padikkal (31) in the final over.

Shimron Hetmyer (31 not out) subsequently saw Rajasthan over the line with two balls to spare as Samson's side ended a two-game losing run to move level on points with second-placed Lucknow Super Giants.

Rejuvenated Jaiswal

Jaiswal mustered just 25 runs across his first three innings in the IPL this season, and was dropped after a poor run in which he produced scores of 20, one and four.

However, he made his mark on his return to the Royals XI as he produced his top score in the competition with his 68 against the Kings, which included nine fours and two sixes.

Classy Chahal returns to form

Chahal had struck just twice in four games, leading to concerns over the purple-cap holder's wicket-taking ability in the middle overs.

But the 31-year-old silenced his critics in emphatic fashion, picking up three important wickets after the powerplay, while bowling 10 dot balls as he went for just seven runs per over.

The Kolkata Knight Riders ended a run of five consecutive losses in the Indian Premier League, with Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh impressing as they chased down the Rajasthan Royals for a seven-wicket win.

The Royals set a below-par target of 152-5 after top-order batsmen Jos Buttler (22) and Devdutt Padikkal (2) struggled to make headway early on, although captain Sanju Samson's half-century dragged them into contention.

Although Kolkata's own top-order fared little better as Baba Indrajith (15) and Aaron Finch (4) succumbed to early dismissals, Rana (48) and Rinku (42) fell narrowly short of half-centuries to end the Knight Riders' dire form.

Despite Samson's haul, the Royals have now fallen to back-to-back IPL defeats, missing the chance to go second in the standings with four matches remaining. 

Having won four of their last five coming into the contest, the Royals were put in to bat after Kolkata skipper Shreyas Iyer won the toss, and made a nightmare start when losing Padikkal for just two runs.

Things went from bad to worse when Buttler, the IPL's leading batsman with 566 runs prior to Monday, was caught by Shivam Mavi for just 22, way down on his season average, in the ninth over.

Samson put in a talismanic captain's performance as his knock of 54 put the Royals in contention, but was caught by Rinku in the 18th over after Karun Nair (13) and Riyan Parag (19) were also sent packing.

The Knight Riders did not have it all their own way immediately when taking up the bat, losing Indrajith and Finch to Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Sen before the sixth over was through in a flat start.

However, Iyer's 34 set the tone for a vast improvement in the second half of Kolkata's innings, with Rana and Rinku's outstanding partnership leading them to what proved to be a routine win as the Royals paid the price for their errors with the bat.

Below-par Buttler sets the tone

Buttler has been key to the Royals' hopes after averaging 65.33 this season, hitting a magnificent century in a crushing win over the Delhi Capitals less than two weeks ago.

However, his dismissal at the ends of Tim Southee set the tone for a miserable outing for Buttler's side, with Southee adding the wicket of Parag in the 17th as Kolkata clinched a crucial victory.

Rana and Rinku combine in style

A five-match losing streak had left Kolkata stranded near the bottom of the IPL table, but Rana and Rinku combined for 90 in a brilliantly efficient display to drag the Knight Riders to an important win and lift them to seventh in the standings, within four points of the Royals.

Daniel Sams blasted his first ball for six in the final over to finally give Mumbai Indians a first Indian Premier League win of the season over Rajasthan Royals on Rohit Sharma's birthday.

Mumbai had lost all eight games, but finally got up and running with a five-wicket victory at the DY Patil Stadium on Saturday.

Run machine Jos Buttler yet again top scored with 67 off 52 balls as the second-placed Royals posted 158-6 and that was not enough to consign the Indians to another defeat.

Suryakumar Yadav (51 from 39) laid the platform for the win and with four needed from the last over, Sams stepped up to win it on captain Rohit's 35th birthday after Kieron Pollard fell to Kuldeep Sen.

Hrithik Shokeen claimed the early wicket of Devdutt Padikkal and the Royals were 54-2 in the eight over when Sanju Samson departed.

Buttler had only 28 off as many balls halfway through Rajasthan's innings and Daryl Mitchell was also unable to get into full flow before he was removed by Sams.

The powerful Buttler had not struck a six until he exploded into life in the 16th over, disdainfully dispatching Shokeen over the ropes from four successive deliveries before he was caught in the deep off the last ball of that over.

Ravichandran Ashwin added a brisk 21 before he was dismissed by the impressive Riley Meredith (2-24) and the India spinner claimed the scalp of Rohit for two in the third over of the run chase.

Yadav and Tilak Varma (35) put 81 on for the third wicket, but departed in quick succession to Yuzvendra Chahal and Prasidh Krishna to leave the game in the balance.

The nerves were jangling when Mitchell caught Pollard in the deep from the first ball of the last over, but Sams launched a huge six into the leg side to raise the root and Tim David was unbeaten on 20 off nine balls.

 

Normal service resumed by brilliant Buttler 

It has been an incredible IPL for Buttler, who is comfortably the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 566 at an average of 70.75 with a strike rate of 155.06.

He struggled to get going after making eight against Royal Challengers Bangalore last time out, but brutally took Shokeen part to reach another half-century from 48 balls before departing trying to hit the spinner over the rope for a fifth time in the 16th over.

Yadav a shining light

It has been a nightmare season for Mumbai – the most successful IPL franchise – but Yadav has been a shining light.

While Rohit has been unable to register a half-century in the tournament, Yadav now has three and averages 48.33, sitting sixth on the list of the highest scorers.

Riyan Parag scored an unbeaten 56 and Kuldeep Sen took 4-20 as Rajasthan Royals defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore by 29 runs despite Jos Buttler's struggles. 

Buttler has been in immaculate form in the Indian Premier League, scoring successive centuries in the previous two matches, but he lasted just nine balls in Pune on Tuesday. 

The England international's score of eight included one boundary before he was dismissed by Josh Hazlewood (2-19) in the fifth over. 

Sanju Samson struck an entertaining 27, including three sixes, to get the Royals back on track, though it was Parag who ultimately dragged them through. 

Having anchored the back half of the Royals' innings, Parag let rip in the final over, plundering two sixes and a four to get his side to 144-8. 

Faf du Plessis elected to go with Virat Kohli at the top of the order, but RCB's former captain went for nine in the second over. 

Du Plessis tallied up 23 before he fell to Sen, who had Glenn Maxwell for a golden duck with the next delivery. 

Ravichandran Ashwin (3-17) joined the party, dismissing Rajat Patidar, Suyash Prabhudessai and Shahbaz Ahmed, while Dinesh Karthik was run out. 

Wanindu Hasaranga (18) offered some resistance for RCB, though their hopes of avoiding a second straight defeat ended when Sen wrapped up the tail as Rajasthan went top of the IPL on 12 points. 

Parag takes up the mantle

With Buttler failing to ignite, Parag initially showed great composure before that explosive final over when he reached a 29-ball half-century. Harshal Patel, who took 1-33, was the unlucky bowler, with 18 runs coming from those last six balls. 

More frustration for Kohli

It was another bad day at the office for Kohli, who has failed to reach double figures in five of his nine IPL innings in 2022. Indeed, it was a bad day all round for the Challengers, who could have gone top with a win, with only Du Plessis scoring above 20. 

Jos Buttler blazed a third century of his remarkable season to help Rajasthan Royals get the better of Delhi Capitals in Mumbai.

The English opener cracked 116 from 65 balls in Rajasthan's 222-2, making his highest score of the IPL campaign so far and emphasising his position as the leading run-scorer in the 2022 competition. Despite a late rally, Delhi fell short by making 207-8 in reply, sliding to a 15-run defeat, with the Royals going top of the table.

This was game seven for the Royals and Buttler, and he came up trumps once more, sharing in a first-wicket partnership of 155 with Devdutt Padikkal (54) before captain Sanju Samson (46no) came out firing for the final overs.

Delhi were up against it from the off but had a sniff of a chance when Rishabh Pant began finding all corners of the Wankhede Stadium; however, Pant's departure for 44 from 24 balls in the 12th over meant there was only tenuous hope left.

Prithvi Shaw (37) and David Warner (28) had given Delhi a reasonable enough start but failed to stick around.

Yuzvendra Chahal at deep fine leg dropped Pant early in the 12th over, misreading the flight of the ball, but the batsman fell two deliveries later. Pant got a top edge when looking to pull into the leg side, and Padikkal watched the ball soar high into the night sky before it fell to allow him to take a fine catch.

Lalit Yadav and Rovman Powell showed fight to leave Delhi needing 36 from the final two overs, but Prasidh Krishna (3-22) then had Yadav caught behind in a remarkable wicket maiden. Three sixes by Powell at the start of the 20th over raised hopes of a miracle finale, but Delhi's protests over a possible no-ball killed their own momentum.

Buttler serves up another ton of treats

Man-of-the-moment Buttler came into this season with one century in 65 IPL matches, spread across six years. Now he has four in 72, and on this occasion it took him 36 balls to reach 50 and only 21 more to advance to three figures.

Buttler made a ton against Mumbai Indians in his second game of the season, and followed that knock of exactly 100 with an impressive 103 in his sixth outing, against Kolkata Knight Riders. There were nine fours and nine sixes in this masterpiece by the 31-year-old, and he has 491 runs for the season, 226 more than the next highest scorer in the competition (KL Rahul – 265).

Surreal McCoy

Royals paceman Obed McCoy cost his team 26 runs with a dreadful over that included nine runs given away in extras, five of which came from a wild and head-high no ball that raced away to the boundary. It was probably the worst delivery that will be bowled in this year's IPL, sailing way outside off stump after slipping out of McCoy's hand and landing several yards wide of wicketkeeper Samson.

When McCoy conceded three sixes from the first three balls of the final over, Delhi needed three more maximums for victory, but the paceman avoided further embarrassment.

One argument for not removing Joe Root as England Test captain was the seeming lack of credible replacements to take over the responsibility.

Well, that became a none issue on Good Friday when it was announced Root had stood down from the position after winning 27 Test matches as skipper – a record for an England captain.

His tenure came under question after England failed to win in five straight series and now the hunt is on for the Yorkshireman's successor.

Stats Perform have evaluated the most likely candidates to do so.

BEN STOKES

Already England's vice-captain and surely the top replacement to fill the void. It is hard to look beyond Stokes, not least because – aside from Root – he is about the only shoo-in for the Test side. So often England's saviour, the star all-rounder has 5,061 runs and 174 wickets from 79 Tests (averaging 35.89 with the bat, and 32.12 with the ball). A recent four-month hiatus, in which Stokes cited mental health reasons, may raise questions as to whether he will want to take on the job, but he certainly appears to be the frontrunner.

JOS BUTTLER

Buttler's main issue, like so many in the red-ball team, is that his place in the side is far from assured. Having said that, Buttler has been a big part of the leadership team in white-ball cricket and the attack-minded wicketkeeper-batsman may thrive if given the opportunity to lead his country in the five-day game. With 2,907 runs and a couple of Test centuries to his name, Buttler could be the one England turn to next.

STUART BROAD

The decision to drop Broad and James Anderson – the former second only to the latter in England's list of all-time leading Test wicket takers – from the recent series in the West Indies was met with complete bemusement. Admittedly, at the age of 35 Broad is in the twilight of his Test career but he could certainly provide a good short-term option until a more viable solution emerges. He has previously captained England in the T20 format too.

RORY BURNS

Recently dropped from the Test team, Burns is maybe more of an outside shot but perhaps with the added responsibility of captaincy he could cement a place in the team. Burns has proved his cricketing nous by leading Surrey to the County Championship in 2018. Burns would need to start scoring consistent runs at the top of the order, though.

JONNY BAIRSTOW

Bairstow has no shortage of grit and desire. Moreover, he was the only England player to score a century in the Ashes debacle and also made a valiant hundred in the first Test against the Windies, which helped secure a draw in that match. However, Bairstow often finds himself in a battle to even make the team. Ollie Pope's emergence means he is not a shoo-in as a middle-order batman, while he is up against Buttler and Ben Foakes to play wicketkeeper.

Gujarat Titans leapfrogged Rajasthan Royals at the top of the Indian Premier League as captain Hardik Pandya starred in a comfortable 37-run win.

Things looked bleak for the Titans when they saw their top order dominated early on, but Hardik's magnificent 87 helped them to 192-4, before the Gujarat attack blitzed their rivals midway through the Royals innings.

Lockie Ferguson and Yash Dayal finished with three wickets apiece as the Royals could only muster 155-9 in reply, sending the Titans two points clear at the top of the IPL table.

The Titans elected to bat after winning the toss but made a dreadful start when both Matthew Wade (12) and Vijay Shankar (2) went early on, the former being run out by Rassie van der Dussen and the latter caught by Sanju Samson.

They steadied themselves to reach 53 before Shubman Gill was dismissed for 11 in the sixth over, before captain Hardik, supported well by Abhinav Manohar (43) and David Miller (31 not out) dragged them back into contention with an outstanding batting display.

Hardik was undoubtedly the star of the show, his 87 off 52 balls almost single-handedly setting a difficult target of 192 as the Royals attack struggled in the absence of fast bowler Trent Boult.

Jos Buttler (52) drove Rajasthan to a decent start with the bat, hitting eight fours and three sixes either side of partner Devdutt Padikkal being dismissed for nought with the very first ball he faced. 

Replacement Ravichandran Ashwin went for eight shortly after and the wickets began to tumble in quick fashion once Buttler was finally bowled out by Ferguson, with Samson (11), Van der Dussen (6), and Shimron Hetmyer (29) all walking for the addition of 60 runs. 

The below-par Royals eventually lost nine wickets without threatening the target of 193, as Ferguson and Dayal helped themselves to three dismissals each.

Hardik drives Titans with spectacular display

Hardik's brilliant display with the bat drove the Titans to a strong position after a difficult start, falling just five runs short of recording his best IPL showing with a haul of 87.

Debutant Dayal blitzes poor Royals

Three wickets from Dayal on his Titans debut, as well as three from Ferguson, made the win more comfortable than it could have been, with the Royals' final three wickets falling for just 17 runs.

Royal Challengers Bangalore roared back to hand Rajasthan Royals their first defeat of the 2022 Indian Premier League by four wickets.

RCB's hopes of victory looked to have escaped them when they allowed Jos Buttler to put on another batting masterclass after his second IPL hundred – and the only century of this year's tournament so far – in the Royals' previous match against Mumbai Indians.

Buttler recovered from a slow start to score an unbeaten 70, ramping up the run rate over a final two overs in which he hit four sixes and Shimron Hetmyer (42 not out) added another.

Their unbroken partnership of 83 off 42 concluded the Royals' innings on 169-3, which looked a solid total at the midway stage of RCB's reply.

Faf du Plessis had been limited to 29, while Virat Kohli was run out, but RCB had enough batting talent remaining further down the order to reach 173-6 with five balls to spare.

A crucial 33-ball sixth-wicket stand of 67 between Shahbaz Ahmed (45) and Dinesh Karthik turned the tide, with the wicketkeeper-batsman sticking around to make 44 not out and complete the job alongside Harshal Patel (nine not out).

Buttler brilliance in vain

Explaining his performance against the Indians, when he bludgeoned 26 runs in the fourth over alone, Buttler said ahead of this match: "You are always looking for that one over that you can really target and go for."

Indeed, his had been just the second IPL century with a dot ball percentage of more than 40; failing to score off 41 per cent of the deliveries he faced, but doing the damage with big boundaries.

Although Buttler did not get off to the same strong start on Tuesday, it was a similar story again as over half of his runs came off six balls. Unsurprisingly, he regained the outright season lead in the IPL with 205 runs.

RCB retain hold over Royals

This was a fifth consecutive RCB win against the Royals; representing Rajasthan's longest active losing streak against any opposition.

It is a particularly painful defeat for the Royals, too, having looked on course to continue a winning start to the season, until bowing under RCB's own barrage of boundaries.

Jos Buttler's second Indian Premier League century helped maintain Rajasthan Royals' winning start in 2022, setting the stage for a 23-run defeat of Mumbai Indians.

The Indians put their opponents in to bat first but no doubt soon regretted that decision as opener Buttler plundered 100 off 68 balls.

That knock did the heavy lifting in the Royals' 193-8 – a total that proved comfortably beyond Mumbai, despite the best efforts of teenager Tilak Varma (61).

Buttler had 26 runs in a dizzying fourth over alone and later put on 82 with captain Sanju Samson (30) for the third wicket in the biggest partnership of the match.

Shimron Hetmyer (35) played his part and the Royals were moving at a blistering pace up until his departure, collapsing from 183-3 with 11 balls remaining.

That shaky finish looked like it could prove costly when Varma joined Ishan Kishan (54) in the middle, but Ravi Ashwin finally got the better of the 19-year-old.

Yuzvendra Chahal (2-26) then set about tidying up the rest of the middle order, getting Tim David and Daniel Sams from consecutive deliveries before creating a hat-trick chance with his ball to Murugan Ashwin, only for Karun Nair to fluff the catch, if not his team's ultimately routine win.

Bumrah bests Buttler after brilliant show

One of the great limited-overs batsmen, Buttler's tally of a single hundred in 66 prior IPL matches was on the light side. He was well on the way to his second century within four overs, though, with 38 runs off 20 balls at that stage.

The England wicketkeeper hit five boundaries in succession – two fours and three sixes – in that fourth over. Although that pace then slowed a little, it still required an elite bowler to eventually get Buttler, with a Jasprit Bumrah beauty among three wickets in the 19th over as he finished with 3-17.

Victory charge ends with Varma wicket

Varma could not join Buttler on three figures, but this was a first fifty and will surely not be his last. It said a lot for Varma's performance that he earned a send off from Ashwin, having sent him for six with a reverse sweep from the previous ball.

Unfortunately for the Indians, already slightly behind in the game, their next boundary did not follow for almost three overs – during which time Chahal took his two wickets.

The International Cricket Council has announced its men's and women's T20I teams of the year, with Pakistan's Babar Azam and England's Nat Sciver named as captains.

Six countries are represented in the men's side, with three each from South Africa and Pakistan, two from Australia and one from England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The three Pakistan players to make the team are Babar, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi. Babar was the top scorer in the T20 World Cup and amassed 939 runs in 29 matches in 2021 overall. Rizwan managed 1,326 runs in the same number of matches at a strike rate of 134.89, while Afridi took 23 wickets in 21 matches at an economy of just 7.86.

Aiden Markram, David Miller and Tabraiz Shamsi are the chosen trio from South Africa. Markram scored 570 runs in 18 matches, Miller 377 runs at a strike rate of 149.60, and wrist spinner Shamsi took 36 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 5.72.

Australia duo Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood are also chosen, with the former making 627 runs in 21 matches and starring in the T20 World Cup final win over New Zealand.

Hazlewood also played a huge partl in his team's World Cup success, taking 23 wickets in 15 matches at an average of 16.34.

England's Jos Buttler makes the team after scoring 589 runs in 14 matches at 65.44 apiece, with one century. He was England's leading run-scorer in the World Cup with 269, which included a stunning century against Sri Lanka, who themselves are represented by Wanindu Hasaranga.

The spinner was another standout performer at the World Cup with 16 wickets to his name, more than anyone else in the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Hasaranga took 36 wickets in 20 matches last year.

The final selection is Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman, who claimed 28 wickets in 20 matches at an average of 17.39, as well as keeping things tight with an economy of 7.00.

The women's team sees five English selections, including Sciver as captain, along with Tammy Beaumont, Danni Wyatt, Amy Jones and Sophie Ecclestone.

They are joined by Smriti Mandhana (India), Gaby Lewis (Ireland), Laura Wolvaardt, Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail (all South Africa) and Loryn Phiri (Zimbabwe).

Sam Billings has joined the England Ashes squad, driving more than 500 miles down the Australian coast to ease the tourists' injury crisis.

With Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler both doubtful for the fifth and final Test of England's disappointing Ashes series, Billings got the call to join the squad just 90 minutes before he was due to leave Australia.

The 30-year-old was in Queensland with Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder, and spoke of his surprise at the call-up, after driving down the east coast of the country alone, as a precaution against COVID-19.

"I thought it was a joke," a thrilled Billings said in an interview with BBC Sport's Test Match Special program.

"I was due to go to Brisbane airport to fly home, and instead I went to Gold Coast airport to pick up a rental car, and I was on my way."

Ollie Pope stood in behind the stumps for England on day four of the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with both Bairstow and Buttler waiting on scans after sustaining hand injuries.

Pope took four catches before the hosts declared at 265-6.

England's prospects of victory look unlikely, given they are chasing a target of 388. However, openers Zak Crawley and Haseeb Hameed were disciplined in a short spell at the crease in the evening session on Saturday, and the tourists' focus will now be on securing a draw to avoid going 4-0 down in the series.

Billings is hoping to make a positive impact in the final Test. Should he feature, he will become the 700th man to represent England in the longest format. 

"I've had to bide my time for an opportunity or consistent game time," Billings said. "I'm really enjoying my cricket, to have the chance to play and not just to run the drinks, I've done that too much!

"I want to prove, not only to myself, but also to other people, that I'm not just a fill-in, I am good enough to warrant a place in the side.

"If the opportunity does arise then there's no pressure on me. It's something that no one really expected, and I've got nothing to lose. That's a great place to be, and sometimes that's when you play your best cricket."

Billings then discussed the rather unique overnight journey that he undertook to meet up with the squad. 

"It's been quite a long drive, I'm not going to lie," said Billings. "People don't realise how big Australia is. It really is vast."

After an overnight stop near the border between Queensland and New South Wales, the 30-year-old continued his journey "at the crack of dawn" on Saturday morning, and was at least able to take in some of the country's scenery. 

"I've been on a motorway through lots of trees, hills and rivers. It's been pleasant, better than the M25!"

Australia's Usman Khawaja is expecting to miss out on a place in the side for the final Ashes Test, despite his stunning display at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England will need to bat out the final day at the SCG on Sunday, and perhaps hope for help from the weather, as they look to seal a draw from the fourth Test and stave off the threat of a 5-0 series whitewash.

The tourists will resume on 30-0, their highest opening partnership of the series so far, after Australia declared on 265-6 in their second innings.

England had kept themselves in the fight thanks to Jonny Bairstow's century on day three, and added 36 runs to their overnight total in the morning session on Saturday.

Their bowlers started well, reducing Australia to 68-3 by the time Khawaja came to the crease, and Steve Smith's dismissal then left the hosts at 86-4.

Yet Khawaja, who marked his recall in place of coronavirus-hit Travis Head with 137 in the first innings, went on to thwart England's bowling attack once more, with his unbeaten 101 leading Australia into a 387-run lead.

Khawaja, who played for New South Wales and currently is a star man for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, became the first player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in January 2006, also against England.

However, the 35-year-old, who had not appeared in an Australia Test team since facing England at Headingley in 2019, does not expect his performance to be enough to secure his spot in the XI for the final match in Hobart.

"At the moment I'm quite resigned to the fact that I'll probably miss out," Khawaja told reporters. "That's just from talking to [head selector] George Bailey about continuity. That's important, I'm not totally against that process.

"I felt like throughout my career, a lot of changes were made and I was on the wrong side of them, so I'm the first to say that I think there needs to be structure and stability. I know how hard it is for a cricketer chopping and changing.

"I actually like the processes that the selectors have been taking throughout the series, so at the moment I'm not really expecting to play the next match, but I'll always be ready.

"Someone else may get COVID or something else happens. Heady batted beautifully in that first Test. I'd be very surprised if too much changed. Scotty Boland was amazing last game, something I'm not sure I'll see again, and he was going to be dropped. It's just the reality. It sucks, but that's just cricket."

While Khawaja is not expecting to play in Tasmania, he may also be joined in watching on by England trio Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Bairstow.

Stokes scored a resilient 66 as he battled through a side strain in England's first innings, while both Buttler and Bairstow did not field on Saturday after sustaining hand injuries.

Ollie Pope filled in at wicketkeeper, taking four catches, while Sam Billings has been called up by England for the Hobart Test, and assistant coach Graham Thorpe does not know if the trio will be fit to return.

"We've obviously got some blows. It's possible [they will miss the final Test] but we will be assessing all of that at the end of the game," he told reporters.

England star Jos Buttler insisted that he has no intentions to retire from Test cricket despite a crushing Ashes series loss to Australia.

Buttler declared he would play without fear ahead of his first red-ball series Down Under but has since mustered just 96 runs from the opening three outings, averaging just 19.2 against Pat Cummins' relentless bowling attack.

The wicketkeeper is not the only England batter to have struggled, given Chris Silverwood's side have already succumbed to a series defeat against Australia before a ball has even been bowled in the penultimate Test in Sydney.

After Quinton de Kock announced he was hanging up his South Africa whites to focus on his young family and limited-overs cricket, questions were raised whether the multi-format Buttler would follow suit and arrive at a similar conclusion.

But 31-year-old knocked back those suggestions on Saturday as he expressed his commitment to the longest form of the game, despite England's beleaguered Test team struggling recently.

He responded to reporters questioning his plans to continue playing red-ball cricket: "It's certainly my ambition. I don't think I'd have put as much into it as I have done if it wasn't.

"I have fantastic family support – they're very supportive of me and my career, and make a lot of sacrifices for that. It's certainly maintained my drive and ambition to try and play [Test cricket]."

 

He added: "That's Quinton's own personal situation. As a huge fan of his, I'm disappointed that he's at that stage. I love watching him bat, keep wicket and play Test cricket. 

"I commend him for making a decision that's right for him. But I feel I've got that support and in a place where I want to try to make it work."

Amid speculation over Silverwood's future following another thrashing to the old enemy Australia, Buttler and his team-mates now have the chance to prove their worth in the final two Tests in early January.

And Buttler reassured that all of the England camp are pulling in the same direction as they look to play for pride with their series out of their reach.

"One thing is we're massively in it all together," he continued. "We live it all together and we want to play well for each other. It's frustrating for Chris he's not here with us [due to COVID-19] – another complication of the tour – but we're certainly very united.

"There is an overriding sense of disappointment and frustration with the situation we've found ourselves in. We certainly don’t want to be a team to lose 5-0."

England have a chance to right some of their wrongs when they next challenge Australia on Tuesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England have made sweeping changes ahead of the Ashes Boxing Day Test with Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes all omitted.

Batsmen Zac Crawley and Jonny Bairstow earn their first opportunities during this Ashes series while paceman Mark Wood and spinner Jack Leach have been recalled.

England trail 2-0 in the Ashes after heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide and will look to keep the series alive at the MCG starting on Sunday.

Opening batsman Burns has been left out after managing only 51 runs at 12.75 along with Ollie Pope with 48 runs at 12 in the first two Tests.

Broad and Woakes make way as England look to add variety to their attack which has allowed Australia to score more than 400 runs in the first innings of both Test matches.

England vice-captain Jos Buttler told reporters on Saturday: "I'd say the reaction is just an honest one from the group. We've had some honest conversations.

"When you come and play Australia we need to be at your best. We're honest with ourselves that we haven’t been there yet. We have to find that very quickly."

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