Flintoff back as England look to go out with a bang

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The Independent Online

The pilot of the charter plane that has transported the players of India and England around this vast country for the past fortnight thought he was the bearer of good news when he announced that the temperature in Indore was only 34 degrees. It is hardly the sort of weather that requires the use of a sweater but compared to the conditions in Jamshedpur, where the mercury rose above the 45C mark, the prospect would have been appetising.

But the players' joy was short-lived. While getting on buses to their hotel, they could not have helped but notice a huge electronic advertisement board informing them the temperature was in fact 42C. The debilitating heat of the last few days will mean that these England players will never forget the seven-match one-day series in India, which finishes here tomorrow.

England may be playing for nothing more than experience and consolation, but the strongest memories of a country can often be your last and each side will badly want a victory.

India and England are likely to field stronger teams than they did on Wednesday. Andrew Flintoff looks set to return to the team after a two-match rest. Flintoff will relieve Andrew Strauss of the captaincy and he will probably replace Matthew Hoggard.

England will also monitor the welfare of Matthew Prior. England's reserve wicketkeeper struggled with the heat at Jamshedpur but the selectors will not want to play Geraint Jones if there is any risk of him causing further damage to the thigh he strained in Cochin.

Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett both suffered cramps in Cochin and the medical team will also assess their fitness before naming their final XI. James Anderson is certain to play. He has been the pick of England's seamers in the series, taking nine wickets and conceding just over four and a half runs an over.

Anderson believes his return to form is down to playing regular cricket for Lancashire and now England. "I lost my place in the team and remained in the squad but I wasn't playing," said Anderson. "I didn't play that much cricket for about 12 months and that did me no good at all. Over the last eight to 10 months I have played a lot of cricket and that is what I needed.

"I am definitely back to where I was. Even better maybe. I feel like there is not a lot of effort going into my bowling and it is coming out at a reasonable speed. It is all through rhythm really, whereas before I was probably trying to force it a bit too much."

Rahul Dravid will return and captain India in his home town, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been rested. Dravid is likely to be joined by Irfan Pathan, Sri Sreesanth and Ajit Agarkar, in a seam attack that will provide England with far sterner competition.

India (from): R Dravid (capt), V Sehwag, A R Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, M Kaif, S K Raina, K D Karthik (wkt), I K Pathan, Y V Rao, M M Patel, S Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, R R Powar, R P Singh, V R V Singh.

England (from): A Flintoff (capt), K Ali, J M Anderson, G J Batty, I R Bell, I D Blackwell, P D Collingwood, M J Hoggard, G O Jones (wkt), S I Mahmood, K P Pietersen, L E Plunkett, M J Prior, O A Shah, V S Solanki, A J Strauss.

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