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England are set to recall Jos Buttler as a specialist batsman in their team for the third Test against India in Mohali with Ben Duckett facing the axe after his struggles against off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the first two matches.
The left-handed Duckett scored 56 in the second innings against Bangladesh in Dhaka but has accumulated just 54 runs in six innings since.
Ashwin, the world’s top-ranked bowler, dismissed him three times in Rajkot and Visakhapatnam and the 22-year-old appears to have technical flaws in his defence against spinners.
“I think he’s got a special talent,” England coach Trevor Bayliss said after the side lost by 246 runs on Monday to go 1-0 down in the series.
“Whether he plays the next match or not, I think he’ll play a lot more for England.
“Every level you get to, you go up. It gets harder and harder, and the step is bigger. Ben’s working harder than anyone in the nets to try to fix things up, getting himself into a position that he is confident enough to score runs.”
England have two batting options in their squad – Gary Ballance and Buttler – to replace Duckett. But Ballance was also dropped after aggregating 24 in four innings during the 1-1 drawn series in Bangladesh.
Buttler, who boats the three fastest ODI hundreds for England, has a modest record in Tests. The wicketkeeper-batsman averages 30 in 15 matches, the last of which was 13 months ago against Pakistan in Dubai.
“The one thing with Jos is that if he plays the same way as he does in one-day cricket, I think that’s the way ahead for him; red ball or white ball,” Bayliss said.
“He’s in the top echelon of destructive batters when it comes to white-ball cricket, and there’s no reason – if he can get his head around playing against a red ball – that he can’t do the same and put the pressure back on the opposition.”
The 26-year-old right-hander has not had much opportunity to practise for the longer format with the lack of warm-up fixtures in India.
“He’s certainly hitting the ball very well in the nets,” Bayliss said. “Yes, we would have liked him to have a hit-out at some stage, but it is what it is these days.
“We’ve no time to fit one in. If he does come in I think he’ll give it his best shot.”
Fast bowler Stuart Broad, who has injured his right foot, could make way for the return of Chris Woakes in Mohali.
England must also decide if they want to persist with left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari, who has taken five wickets in three tests, or replace him either with off-spinner Gareth Batty or seamer Steven Finn.