India hope to make most of Flintoff scare

Published: Sunday, August 26, 2007, 22:52 [IST]
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India's Mahendra Dhoni believes an England side shorn of all-rounder Andrew Flintoff could play into their hands in the ongoing one-day series.

"If he is not playing the England team will be slightly on the back foot," said the India vice-captain ahead of the third game in the seven-match series at Edgbaston on Monday.

The two sides are level at 1-1 but Flintoff is a doubt for Monday having had an anti-inflammatory cortisone injection after injuring his knee during Friday's defeat in Bristol.

"He has lifted them a lot, he is the kind of player who always has an impact on the game. In one-day cricket he is the perfect all-rounder," added Dhoni who also believes the spin of Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar was a crucial element in the win in Bristol.

"Our strength is spinners and they always come up with good performances," he said. "At times on a flat track when the fast bowlers do not have a good day the spinners back them up and are the ones that help us win.

"When the ball turns there is a bit of worry for the England batsmen - it is not that they don't play the spin well but at times the pressure is building on the field.

"You may have a very flat batting track but after three or four wickets go down it may seem like a completely different situation out there.

"The batsman perhaps does not know what to do, whether to block it or go after it and that creates the pressure."

India are likely to make one change on Monday with left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan hoping to return after a bout of flu in place of Ajit Agarkar or Munaf Patel.

England coach Peter Moores insisted that Flintoff will not be risked if he is not fully fit.

Flintoff, 29, did not bowl or take part in fielding practice on Sunday, although he did bat, and Moores admitted he must make sure Flintoff is not in danger of doing himself further damage before letting him play at Edgbaston.

The problem for Moores is he knows Flintoff will be keen to play, having missed most of the season recovering from another operation on his troublesome left ankle.

"He's very keen to play, as he would be because he's missed a lot of cricket and wants to get out there, but I think we have to make sure we balance it over a long series," Moores said.

"They've looked at the injury and they don't seem to be that concerned about anything long term. We just have to make sure that if we know there's no risk in him playing then we can go ahead but if we think it's more sensible to miss a game then that's what we'll do.

"It will be very tough to tell him that, but like most of these things, they work themselves out."

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