Dhoni dismisses injury fears for faltering Flintoff

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The Independent Online

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has played down injury fears over Andrew Flintoff after the all-rounder was seen with an ice pack on his foot following his Indian Premier League debut in Cape Town on Saturday.

The all-rounder seemed uncomfortable after being struck on his foot while batting for the Chennai Super Kings, who slumped to a 19-run defeat to the Mumbai Indians, for whom Graham Napier was not selected, in the tournament opener at Newlands. Asked whether the injury was serious, Dhoni said: "I don't think he's injured. As far as the playing XI is concerned [for the next match], we'll have a look and reassess things then."

Flintoff struggled with the ball, taking 1 for 44 as his side conceded 165. He was then promoted up the batting order and shared a half-century stand with Matthew Hayden, before trying a big shot that was skied back to the bowler Harbhajan Singh for 24 in 23 deliveries. Dhoni dismissed suggestions that Flintoff was not worth the $1.55m (£1.05m) paid for him. "It's not about money," he said. "It's about how much he contributes. Andrew is the kind of guy that you need. He is the best bowler in one-day cricket."

Kevin Pietersen was pleased with his IPL debut after guiding his Bangalore Challengers to an emphatic win over Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals in Cape Town. Pietersen hit 32 off 30 balls with the bat and marshalled his troops impressively at Newlands as they won by 75 runs. "It is a terrific start," Pietersen said. "The boys played fantastic cricket. Going up against Shane is always interesting, the mind games, but it's all great."

Yesterday, Ravi Bopara hit 22 as his Kings XI Punjab side lost by 10 wickets to the Delhi Daredevils, for whom Paul Collingwood was not selected.

Ian Bell continued his fine early- season form with another century for Warwickshire against Somerset but it was in a lost cause as the visitors won by eight wickets in the Friends Provident Trophy.