Cricket: Injured Smith will miss opening match

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The Independent Online
ROBIN SMITH will miss the first match of England's tour in India because of his broken toe. The Hampshire batsman had his left big toe cracked by Chris Lewis at Lilleshall two weeks ago and will rest the injury during the three- day game against Delhi which starts on Sunday.

Smith did take part in yesterday's first serious team work-out - a five-hour session - having a long run around the ground plus a gentle knock-up with the bat. His captain, Graham Gooch was an early casualty in the nets, bowled second ball by a local former aircraft technician in the morning. He returned for a longer net in the afternoon.

Keith Fletcher, the team manager, confirmed that Smith would wait until the second three-day fixture against the Board President's XI in Lucknow on 8 to 10 January before resuming action. Fletcher said: 'If we had a Test match in four days' time I think he would play. But we are getting Robin quietly back into it. Until the bone has fully set there is no point in risking him. If he was hit on it again it could set him back another fortnight.'

Fletcher added that the India's below-par performances in South Africa would not make England complacent. 'India will be a different team back over here. They haven't played well in South Africa but all sides lose some time.'

Ravi Shastri, the Indian vice- captain has been ruled out of Saturday's fourth Test against South Africa in Cape Town with a knee injury. He has consulted a specialist and may need operation. If so, he would also miss the early part of the series against England.