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March 19, 2012
England will make a late decision over whether Stuart Broad is fit for the final warm-up match ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka. Broad turned his left ankle shortly before the start of the three-day game against the Board XI in Colombo and was withdrawn from the contest.
He trained with the squad ahead of the second three-day outing and began to move more freely as Monday's session progressed, but the management had still to decide whether to give him an outing against a Development XI or hold him back for the first Test in Galle, which starts on March 26. Ideally for England, Broad would play ahead of the Test so he can continue to adjust to the heat and humidity during the short series.
"He's been recovering okay and he will be fitness tested this afternoon. After he's had a bowl we'll decide whether we are going to play him," Andy Flower, the England team director, said. "That decision could be made after training or in the morning when we see how he pulls up then."
In Broad's absence, Steven Finn played against the Board XI and collected four wickets in the match, continuing the good form he showed during the one-day series against Pakistan in the UAE. James Anderson claimed match figures of 7 for 40 and England also have Tim Bresnan available as another pace-bowling option.
Broad and Anderson had formed a formidable new-ball attack in the UAE and England's 3-0 whitewash had nothing to do with the performance of the bowling unit. England ended that series playing two quicks and two spinners, as Monty Panesar returned to partner Graeme Swann, and the indications are that they will continue with that balance against Sri Lanka. Panesar took 5 for 37 in the first innings against the Board XI and Swann claimed 3 for 33 in the second as both got overs under their belts ahead of the first Test.
England could also benefit from Sri Lanka's schedule, which will see them complete their Asia Cup campaign on Tuesday before a quick turnaround heading into Galle, although failing to reach the final means they have three extra days to prepare.
"I think it is probably not Sri Lanka's ideal preparation," Flower said. "They are very experienced cricketers and they will be used to switching from one format to another. But I think they might be slightly undercooked on that front and obviously we'd like to take the initiative.
"There's still some acclimatisation time left before the first Test and this game is part of that," Flower added of England's preparation. "Our guys played superbly in the first three-day game. Now we have another and we would like to play to win that as well getting the right time in the middle that our guys need.
"Our preparation has been excellent so far and I imagine by the first Test we will be ready."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur