Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Flintoff Hits Form on the Tour Opener

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Flintoff Hits Form on the Tour Opener

Article excerpt

Byline: By Richard Gibson

Andrew Flintoff impressed in his new role up the order as England warmed up for the ICC Champions Trophy with an emphatic victory over a Rajasthan Cricket Association XI yesterday.

Flintoff cracked 59 from No 3 in a 144-run win which also saw half-centuries for Ian Bell and Jamie Dalrymple

The solitary warm-up encounter ahead of Sunday's meeting with hosts India here also saw all six bowlers used claim wickets as coach Duncan Fletcher got his wish for the majority of the squad to get meaningful action.

It was Flintoff's innings, off 53 balls, which set the early pace as his second-wicket partnership of 100 with Ian Bell laid the platform for a decent total at the KL Saini ground.

His ability to beat the infield with his sheer power resulted in the ball scuttling to the boundary eight times from Flintoff's bat inside the first two power plays ( and he also flicked a six off his pads with consummate ease.

Afterwards, however, he refused to confirm where he would bat in the three group matches of this event, his first international action since the Test series against Sri Lanka at the start of the summer. "You look at the depth of batting in the side and there are all different ways we can use the order," Flintoff said.

"That is something myself and the coach will discuss, there are a number of different routes we can go down, and it is about where is the best place, not just for myself, but for the rest of the lads too.

"Whether I bat one, two, three, four, five, six or seven I am not bothered, I am just glad to be playing again. It is nice to get back into the middle, it was a long summer."

His first innings since an aborted comeback from his ankle injury in July began when Andrew Strauss was caught behind off Shalandu Gehlot in the second over.

Powerful drives down the ground were a feature of the 28-year-old's innings and the tempo was given an injection when he nonchalantly helped the ball over the rope at deep square-leg in an over which cost seamer Afroz Khan 23 runs.

Bell anchored things at the other end, getting into double figures in the 10th over when he caressed a cover drive to the rope, before expanding his own range of strokes. …

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