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England hope for injured duo

NatWest Series
Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff missed the fifth 0DI at Headingley Carnegie

England remain hopeful all-rounders Andrew Flintoff and Ravi Bopara can return to action sooner rather than later after an injury-jinxed weekend.

Both will be assessed in the aftermath of the rain-affected, 38-run defeat to India which reduced England’s NatWest Series lead to 3-2.

Flintoff has experienced discomfort in his troublesome left ankle and missed the contest at Headingley while Bopara dislocated his right thumb in dropping a return catch from Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir, although he later batted in pain.

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Both men will report to the Brit Oval on Tuesday ahead of the penultimate encounter in the seven-match campaign.

Both must be considered doubts to board the plane to South Africa for the World Twenty20 but captain Paul Collingwood attempted to allay those fears.

“It’s a quick turnaround after the one-day series but they will both be gauged in the next couple of days and hopefully they are not as bad as they may seem at the moment,” said Collingwood.

“Obviously the medical staff will assess them over the next couple of days and then make a decision.

“Ravi is in a little bit of pain but these things tend to be sore for 24 hours and we will assess it tomorrow.”

England lost another high-scoring affair in Leeds despite Collingwood’s best efforts in hitting a brisk, unbeaten 91.

Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood cuts on his way to 91 © Getty Images

After the wet weather made its first cut into England’s innings, their target was reduced from 325 to 311 from 45 overs.

Resuming on 105 for four in the 17th over, it appeared a forlorn hope but Collingwood, who hit four sixes, said: “It can be a very fast-scoring ground and certainly hitting with the wind as well we believed if we left ourselves 90 or even 100 off the last 10 we had a chance.

“We knew it would be a tall order, we needed everything going our way.

“When you lose five overs through Duckworth-Lewis and only 15 runs it is a bit of a body blow but I guess it’s the fairest equation.”

England would have sealed the campaign with victory but were forced onto the back foot by India veterans Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly despite winning the toss in overcast conditions.

That pair shared 116 for the first wicket and Yuvraj Singh and Gambhir also hit half-centuries in India’s 324 for six.

“There is still a lot of confidence in there, we are disappointed to have lost of course,” said Collingwood.

“We are still doing a lot of good stuff in games and we are very confident of still winning the series.

“When an opposition gets 320-odd you’re always going to question the decision at the toss.

“But it was an early start at 10.15, I thought the ball would seam around in overcast conditions but it probably didn’t do as much as I thought it would.

Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid guides the ball to fine leg © Getty Images

“But give credit to Tendulkar and Ganguly for the way they played out there.

“It was hard to stop them. I don’t think we bowled that badly. It’s not all doom and gloom.”

India captain Rahul Dravid was delighted with his side’s performance after back-to-back defeats at Edgbaston and Old Trafford.

“I thought we batted beautifully, it was a good all-round batting performance,” said Dravid.

“Sachin and Sourav gave us a great start with a good tempo and then that was carried on and had a good flourish at the end.”

Ganguly celebrated his 300th one-day international cap with the man-of-the-match award, his innings of 59 followed by two early wickets while wicket-keeper Mahendra Dhoni equalled the world record with six dismissals.

“Sourav bowled really well, his two wickets at that stage were really useful to us.

“We were disappointed in the field with our catching again but it’s nice to get away with a win and stay in the series.

“Dhoni was catching well - at one stage we were hoping all the balls went to him!” Dravid joked.

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