Flintoff waiting to face Malinga-powered Lanka

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Birmingham:The inclusion of pace bowler Lasith Malinga in Sri Lanka's 12-man squad for the second Test at Edgbaston, starting tomorrow, has caused a stir in the England camp.

England captain Andrew Flintoff and his team mates are normally concerned about mercurial off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan but the prospect of a recall for Malinga, with his unusual slingy action, has created some interest.

''I've never faced him, though some of the lads have,'' Flintoff told reporters today.

''I listened to (Sri Lanka coach) Tom Moody speaking about him yesterday and he said he's someone who takes you a bit by surprise and he's low-arm who almost bowls in front of the umpire.

''We'll have video footage of him and have the opportunity to watch him at various speeds. I don't think we can do any more than that.'' The first Test at Lord's last week was drawn when Sri Lanka produced an amazing second innings fight-back after following on. England's cause was not helped by nine dropped catches, six of them in the second innings.

''We saw last week at Lord's that Sri Lanka are a talented and fighting side, so turning up tomorrow we can't be thinking about former glories. We have to concentrate on the job in hand,'' Flintoff said.

Edgbaston was the scene of England's dramatic victory in the second Test against Australia last year when Steve Harmison dismissed Michael Kasprowicz to snatch a two-run win and level the Ashes series 1-1.

Harmison is recovering from a shin problem and will miss the match against Sri Lanka. Regular skipper Michael Vaughan, fast bowler Simon Jones and spinner Ashley Giles are also absent because of injury and are unlikely to figure in the three-match series.

England are sticking with the side that played in the Lord's Test but Flintoff was confident the young team was up to the task.

''There have been some great opportunities for the young players to come and play for England. They've done well and I think we now need to start winning some Test matches, especially starting here,'' he said.

''The England team at Edgbaston over the last few years, against Australia last year and against the West Indies the previous year, have had quite a bit of success. It's a ground that we enjoy playing on.'' ''It's always been a ground I've done all right on, especially with the bat. Hopefully that will continue over the next few days,'' added the 28 year-old, who scored his Test best 167 on the ground in 2004.

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