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Moeen Ali pulls out of last two Tests, Bairstow returns to Eng squad

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Chennai, Feb 16 (IANS) All-rounder Moeen Ali has opted out of the remainder of the series and decided to return home. He won’t play the last two Test matches.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow and fast bowler Mark Wood have, meanwhile, joined England’s 17-man squad for the third Test against India, the squad for which was announced on Tuesday.

“Moeen chose to go back home. It has obviously been a very tricky tour for him. As mentioned at the start, if players feel they need to get out of the bubble, they have that option. It is important that we stand by that. That decision has been made. Hopefully he feels better,” said skipper Joe Root after the match while speaking to the media.

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The off-spinner tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Sri Lanka and had to miss the two Test matches there. He was available for the first Test against India but England decided to keep Dom Bess, who had done well against Sri Lanka.

Moeen was picked ahead of Bess for the second Test and although he picked eight wickets in the Test he was expensive and thrashed by Rohit Sharma in the first innings.

England, as per their rotation policy, also allow players to go out of the bubble.

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They decided to not include Bairstow in the first two Tests of the series while veteran fast bowler James Anderson was rested for the second Test after leading the visitors to victory in the first. The decision to not include Bairstow was especially criticised by the likes former England captains Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan after the 31-year-old right handed batsman finished England’s preceding two-Test series against Sri Lanka as their second highest run-scorer.

England 17-man squad for third Test: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wicket-keeper), Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

–IANS

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