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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

'Difficult' to drop Alex Hales admits England captain Eoin Morgan even with Ben Stokes waiting in the wings

Hales' unbeaten 58 in five-wicket victory over India on Friday had made a strong case for his continued inclusion in Bristol on Sunday

Alex Hales' unbeaten 58 against India on Friday had made a strong case for his continued inclusion in Bristol on Sunday. Reuters
Alex Hales' unbeaten 58 against India on Friday had made a strong case for his continued inclusion in Bristol on Sunday. Reuters

Alex Hales' match-winning half-century against India has given England a tough call to make if they want to make room for fit-again Ben Stokes in Sunday's series decider.

Captain Eoin Morgan acknowledged Hales' unbeaten 58 - including a six off the first ball of the miserly Bhuvneshwar Kumar's last over when England still needed 12 to win - had made a strong case for his continued inclusion in Bristol on Sunday, even if Stokes is available for the final Twenty20 International.

Stokes was watching from the dug-out, having recovered from his hamstring injury, as England's bowlers restricted the tourists to just 148-5 in Cardiff - and then Hales led the way from No 4 after early wickets had raised the stakes.

"Alex always makes it difficult [to drop him], particularly in T20 cricket," Morgan said following Friday's five-wicket win.

"He's played a lot for us - he's one of our highest runscorers, a very experienced campaigner.

"An innings like that tonight makes him a pretty strong case for the next game."

Asked if he has any idea yet on how to fit Stokes back into the line-up, Morgan said: "No - that's the simple answer.

"Ben's obviously a fantastic player, and there will be a difficult decision to make.

"We've made calls like this in the past, but we hope we'll make it for the betterment of the team - and put out our strongest XI."

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While all-rounder Stokes may be considered ready to play only as a batsman, Hales could hardly have done any more to demonstrate he should stay in the team - having already pressed his claims with a big hundred on his home ground in Nottingham against Australia in last month's one-day international series.

"He really did play brilliantly," added Morgan. "He's played a lot of T20 International cricket, and he's obviously played a lot around the world - and he certainly used that tonight.

"Having the composure to play quite a mature innings, as he did ... then towards the end, he's not known as a big hitter but anybody who watched the game at Trent Bridge will realise he hits the ball quite a long way - even yorkers.

"We had quite a lot of confidence in him, but it is very nice to get over the line."