England suffer injury scares for Kiwis tie

Published: Monday, January 29, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Perth:England is again set to be without three of its key players for the crunch triangular one-day series clash with New Zealand here.

Defeat will almost certainly end England's hopes of reaching the tri-series finals to cap a disastrous tour, and they look to be missing captain Michael Vaughan as well as opening bowlers James Anderson and Jon Lewis.

The trio were also absent when the English slumped to a nine-wicket loss to Australia on Friday in Adelaide.

If the much-improved Kiwis beat England again on Tuesday, they will move five points ahead of England on the table with a win worth four points and both teams having two matches left.

That would leave England needing to win their last two games against Australia, an unfathomable prospect on recent form, and the Kiwis to make the finals.

Lewis and Anderson both missed Friday's loss and have been unable to shake off minor niggles.

Interim captain Andrew Flintoff ruled that pair out of Tuesday's game after training on Monday. Vaughan has been given extra time to prove his fitness but is unlikely to play.

Despite the high stakes, Flintoff said it was not the time to be risking key players.

"Anderson and Lewis won't be available," Flintoff said here on Monday.

"With the amount of cricket we've got coming up - we've got this series and the World Cup - it is a case of managing them well because we are going to need them further down the line."

Vaughan complained of a twinge in his hamstring at training on Sunday and Flintoff said he would be given until Tuesday morning before a final decision would be made, but added: "Vaughany is doubtful."

"The final decision will probably be made (Tuesday). He did some running out there today and we will see how he rocks up."

Flintoff said the loss of Anderson was particularly disappointing for England, as he had run into his best form of an otherwise disappointing tour in recent tri-series matches.

Anderson has a history of back problems and is suffering from back soreness, but Flintoff said the seamer just needed a rest.

"He's been fantastic, I think he has got better and better on this trip," the skipper said.

"He's found his pace again and been swinging it at pace. He's bowled well with the new ball, especially in these one-day games.

"No one wants to miss games of cricket, but we have to get him right and I'm sure he will be."

Flintoff said England were considering shuffling their batting order on Tuesday, while vocal wicketkeeper Paul Nixon is under pressure to retain his place ahead of Chris Read.

Paceman Sajid Mahmood has been lively in the nets and could also win a recall to spice up the England attack.

Bond, Franklin ready for Kiwi recall: Meanwhile New Zealand are set to recall fast bowlers Shane Bond and James Franklin for 'morrow's crucial clash.

The pair missed Sunday's clash with Australia at the WACA in Perth to conserve their energy for Tuesday, knowing another New Zealand victory will almost certainly end England's chance of making the playoffs.

New Zealand thrashed England by 90 runs in Adelaide last week to earn a valuable bonus point that could prove decisive in the battle to see which team joins Australia in the best-of-three final.

Although New Zealand lost to Australia on Sunday, their brave run-chase has them brimming with confidence ahead of the match with England.


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