England 295-8 RCA XI 151 <i>(England win by 144 runs)</i>: Flintoff revels in return to inspire England victory

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff impressed in his new role up the order as England warmed up for the Champions Trophy with an emphatic victory over a Rajasthan Cricket Association XI here. The England captain hit 59 from the No 3 position, and there were also half-centuries for Ian Bell and Jamie Dalrymple in a 144-run win.

All six bowlers used in the solitary warm-up encounter ahead of Sunday's meeting here with India claimed wickets as the England coach Duncan Fletcher got his wish for the majority of the squad to see 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. His ability to beat the infield with 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, 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, 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. When you have a lay-off like that sometimes you take it for granted you are always going to be playing. It makes you realise how much you miss it and how much you enjoy it."

There was also encouragement for England in the form of Dalrymple. The Middlesex all-rounder hit four sixes in hisstint, finishing unbeaten 79.

In New Delhi, police questioned the South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs yesterday in a six-year-old match-fixing case and said that he admitted to receiving two offers from his former team-mate Hansie Cronje to underperform in exchange for money.

A Delhi police investigation into corruption during South Africa's tour of India in 2000 resulted in Cronje, the South African captain at the time, and team-mates Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom being charged with "cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy related to match-fixing". Gibbs was fined and suspended for six months by his national board after admitting that he agreed to underperform in a one-day international.