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5 English players indisposed ahead of warm-up match vs Board XI

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Vadodara, Feb 22 (UNI) The 16-member English cricket team presently on a two-month-long tour of India to play three Tests and seven ODIs, is facing a serious fitness problem with as many as five players being indisposed ahead of their second three-day warm-up match against Board President's XI beginning here tomorrow.

While four bowlers, including ace seamer Simon Jones, spinners Ian Blackwell, Shaun Udal and Monty Panesar, were down with stomach ailments, middle-order batsman Paul Collingwood was reportedly suffering from a back problem.

At the Taj Residency where the team has been put in, leading English paceman Stephen Harmison told mediapersons that though this was an unfortunate happenning, the team was expected to get back its full strength before the first Test scheduled to be played at Nagpur from March 1.

Expressing his satisfaction over the preparation for the match, Harmison, one of the star performers for England in their Ashes triump last summer, said, the coming series was going to be tough and his team would certainly ''enjoy playing before big crowds in India.'' On the side's convincing 238-run victory over CCI XI in the three-day tour opener at Mumbai's Brabourne stadium, the star English seamer said, ''It is good to start with a winning note.

But we want to see our own improvement in the game rather than the opposition combination.'' Though Michael Vaughan-led England side, studded with stalwarts like Andrew Flintoff, Marcus Trescothick, Andhrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood, Simon Jones and Stephen Harmison, looks quite strong, Andhra batsman Venugopal Rao, who is leading the Board President's XI and coach Kiran More were hopeful of giving a good fight.

''The Board XI will love to win. Having several promising younsters in the team, we will play a positive game and try to demoralise the visitors prior to the real action starts,'' More said, after the home team had their nets at the IPCL ground.

Stating that the three-day match would provide a good opportunity to the youngsters to come back to the Indian Test and ODI teams, More said players like Gautam Gambhir, Munaf Patel, S S Paul and Sreesanth had been included in the Board XI to help them improve their performances.

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