Ravi Bopara 'unlikely to bowl during Test series'


England have been dealt a blow ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka, with all-rounder Ravi Bopara suffering a side injury that is expected to prevent him from bowling.

Bopara is vying with Samit Patel and Tim Bresnan for a spot in England's first XI in Galle on Monday, but his chances have now been badly hit after he hurt himself in the warm-up match against a Sri Lankan Board XI.

An England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman said: "Ravi Bopara strained his left side in the first innings and is unlikely to bowl during the Test series.

"He will be available for selection as a specialist batsman."

Although Bopara will be considered for his batting, that may not be enough.

In energy-sapping heat and humidity, England's seamers are able only to operate in short spells, meaning they will be looking for at least one of their top six to act as a relief bowler.

There are other candidates for that role, with Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott capable part-timers and Ian Bell given a rare bowl in today's match.

But Patel's left-arm spin is a much stronger option and Bresnan is a frontline paceman who would be likely to bat at seven.