Jonny Bairstow is pencilled in to return for the fourth Twenty20 as England look set to drop either James Vince or his future Yorkshire team-mate Dawid Malan following a dramatic batting collapse against New Zealand last time out.
England lost five wickets in the space of 19 balls in Nelson to crash to a 14-run defeat, one that left them 2-1 down and needing to win in Napier on Friday night (5am UK time) and Auckland on Sunday afternoon (1am UK time) to prevail in the series.
Bairstow was rotated out of the side on Tuesday as England gave their fringe players extended outings but it is understood he is likely to bolster the batting for the must-win game at McLean Park tomorrow.
Bairstow was dismissed for a golden duck in Wellington but, among the batsmen, only captain Eoin Morgan has more caps, meaning the Yorkshireman would be a reassuring presence in a line-up light on experience.
England are yet to finalise their XI but Vince or Malan seem poised to make way after both came under scrutiny for their dismissals – despite making the tourists’ two highest scores.
Vince was among the cluster of wickets which ultimately doomed England’s pursuit of 181, quickly following Morgan and Sam Billings, the Irishman’s deputy for the series, back to the pavilion after tamely chipping to mid-off.
Bairstow would be a reassuring presence in a line-up light on experience.David Charlesworth
Having made it to 49, Vince should have shouldered the burden to get England over the line – they needed 44 from the final 34 balls with eight wickets in hand when he and Morgan were at the crease – although the Hampshire captain is only two innings removed from a man-of-the-match 59 in the opening game of the series in Christchurch.
Malan had earlier recorded his fifth score of 50 or more in eight T20 innings for England but the new Yorkshire batsman, signed this week, dispatched a rank full toss from leg-spinner Ish Sodhi straight to deep midwicket.
Morgan said afterwards that his former Middlesex team-mate would be “hurt” at being unable to get England home and whether his score of 55 leads to his retention at the top of the order alongside Tom Banton remains to be seen.
Banton and Matt Parkinson were the latest to make their international bows as England fielded all six players who had not made their T20 debuts before this series in the picturesque setting of Saxton Oval.
Somerset opener Banton sparkled briefly with 18 from 10 deliveries and Lancashire leg-spinner Parkinson took a wicket with only his fifth ball, bowling Tim Seifert through his legs after he missed a reverse slog sweep.
However, a change in wind direction and the presence of two left-handers in Jimmy Neesham and Mitch Santner meant Parkinson only sent down two overs, recording tidy figures of 1-14. He said: “I was a bit gutted I didn’t bowl my full four overs, but I’m pleased to have got a wicket with my fifth ball.”
Parkinson’s first step on the international stage comes just a few months after the sudden death of his mother in July.
The grief motivated the 23-year-old – also included in the squad for the Test series that follows the five T20s – to succeed in the remainder of the county season. He said: “I like to think that I’ve used that tragic thing to spur me on.”
Australian bowler Sean Abbott will play county cricket for the first time next season after signing with Derbyshire.
Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmad, 19, has signed for Gloucestershire.
All-rounder Paul Coughlin, 27, is returning to home county Durham from Nottinghamshire.