England must do it the hard way with a makeshift 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 split webbing 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 regular skipper Morgan’s absence
- Lancashire’s big-hitting Livingstone set to make his 50-over international debut
If England are to gain anything from an Indian tour that started with such promise in an opening Test victory then they must do it the hard way.
They go into Friday’s second one-day international without captain Eoin Morgan and the desperately unlucky Sam Billings, leaving what looks like a decidedly makeshift 50-over side facing the might of India one down and very much up against it.
Jos Buttler will captain England in Morgan’s absence while Lancashire’s big-hitting Liam Livingstone makes his 50-over international debut. Dawid Malan, meanwhile, has been promoted to the full squad and also looks set to play in Pune.
Jos Buttler will captain England against India on Friday in Eoin Morgan’s absence
Morgan was ruled out of both Friday’s game and the final match on Sunday when the right hand he damaged during the first ODI, needing four stitches in the webbing between his right thumb and index finger, failed to come through a fitness test.
‘I had the hand redressed before training but I quickly found myself protecting the injury and getting into the wrong positions to catch the ball,’ said Morgan. ‘There’s nowhere to hide in international cricket so it didn’t require any great thought to rule myself out.
‘It was a freak injury and it’s extremely frustrating but there’s nothing I can do about it. I have every confidence in Jos and the squad coping without me.’
Lancashire’s big-hitting Liam Livingstone set to make his 50-over international debut
And Billings, who missed England’s World Cup triumph in 2019 with a dislocated shoulder, faces a battle to be fit for Sunday’s final game after spraining his collarbone diving in the Pune outfield during the opening 66-run defeat.
At least the latest blows, which add 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 struggled in two Twenty20 internationals against South Africa four years ago but they came when he was out of form and Livingstone believes he is a more mature player and person now he has been given this second chance.
‘I am absolutely ready,’ said Livingstone, who has also been working on his leg and off-spin bowling. ‘The first time around was very different to now and I’ve been waiting for this for some time. This is not just any old team to get into – they are world champions.’
Eoin Morgan leaves the field with a hand injury suffered while fielding in the first ODI in Pune
England must now rejig their line-up, with Livingstone more suited to the middle order in 50-over cricket. That means he could fit in at six or even seven, with Malan coming in at three and Ben Stokes being moved down again after just one match in Root’s position.
Morgan promised opportunities to all his squad players in this series but Reece Topley and Matt Parkinson may have to wait again now unless England spring a surprise and play an extra bowler instead of Malan.
England are attempting 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 on top of the world 50-over rankings if they lose this one 3-0.
Sam Billings receives treatment after bruising his collarbone in the defeat on Tuesday