England limited overs coach Matthew Mott has confirmed captain Jos Buttler will not be risked in Wednesday’s fifth T20 international with Pakistan in Lahore (England 5/6, Pakistan 20/21 – Match Winner).
Buttler has been working his way back to fitness after picking up a calf injury while representing Manchester Originals in The Hundred last month and he was never intended to feature in the first four T20s of the series in Karachi.
However, the white-ball specialist has played an active role in training during the tour and acted as the 12th man during Sunday’s fourth T20I, which England narrowly lost by three runs as Pakistan levelled the series at 2-2.
That had raised expectations Buttler could return to the team for this week’s fifth T20I, but Mott has now confirmed they will not be taking any risks with the 32-year-old, as they look to manage his comeback ahead of next month’s World Cup.
“With regards to Jos, he’s still a while off,” Mott told reporters as England arrived in Lahore. “He’s not a player we want to take a risk on at this stage, so close to a World Cup, and it was a reasonably significant injury that he had.
“He’s champing at the bit for a game but we’ll just try and see how we go: maybe in the last game or two, he might be a chance.”
The tour has swung one way and another to date, with England claiming comprehensive victories in the first and third matches, while Pakistan were big winners in the second contest (England 10/11, Pakistan 10/11 – Series Winner).
Sunday’s three-run victory for Pakistan was by far the tightest of the matches to date and despite losing that contest, Mott believes such a competitive fixture will stand England (4/1 to win World Cup) in good stead heading into the World Cup.
“We couldn’t ask for better preparation than games like tonight [Sunday] where it’s all on the line with a couple of overs to go and players are under pressure,” Mott added.
“To play in high-pressure situations in front of a big crowd that was right into the game [is great].
“Yes, we would love to have won, but I think when you head into a World Cup, you want to play against good opposition in tough games and it’s been every bit of that.”
With Buttler not yet ready to feature, England may make limited changes to their team for Wednesday’s contest, with batter Will Jacks hoping to be handed another chance to impress, while bowler Richard Gleeson could also feature as he continues to recover from a back issue.
Pakistan (8/1 to win World Cup) could also make changes as they look to try different combinations ahead of the World Cup and Mohammad Rizwan could be one of the players that is handed a rest.
The fifth T20I is due to get underway at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore at 15:30 BST on Wednesday.