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Hoggard passed fit for final Test

Colombo: England fast bowler Matthew Hoggard has recovered sufficiently from a back complaint to be included in a 12-man squad for the third and final Test against Sri Lanka starting in Galle on Tuesday.

Fast bowler Stuart Broad, who made his debut in the drawn second Test, was left out on Monday to accommodate the possible return of Hoggard who missed the second Test with the injury.

Hoggard’s fitness is still being monitored although England could opt to play two spinners on a pitch set to offer plenty of turn.

“It’s amazing how much the pitch can change in 24 hours in conditions here — yesterday it was completely green and today it is brown and barren,” England captain Michael Vaughan told reporters.

Galle has traditionally favoured spin bowlers but no one is really sure how the new pitch will play.

“There have been a couple of low-scoring practice games but we really don’t know what is going to happen,” Sri Lanka vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara said.

Sri Lanka, though, look likely to change the formation of their bowling attack and play with two frontline spinners, Muttiah Muralidharan and leg-spinner Malinga Bandara.

Sri Lanka have also recalled Tillekeratne Dilshan to try a bolster their middle-order. Dilshan also provides a third spin option, if required.

England may also consider including a second spinner with off-spinner Graeme Swann in line for a possible Test debut.

But the real focus on the opening day of the match will be the re-opening of the Galle stadium, destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.

The run-up to the third Test has been dominated by concerns that the new stadium, rebuilt after being destroyed three years ago, will not be ready in time.

Hundreds of workmen continued to work overtime on Sunday after monsoon rains left the playing area waterlogged, while sections of the stadium were still being constructed.

Team practices have been severely disrupted by inadequate training facilities but the England team have made a point of understanding the importance of the venue’s re-opening.

“It’s obviously not finished at the moment but they are working very hard and progressing day by day, so hopefully it’ll be playable,” Paul Collingwood told reporters.

“Driving down in the bus from Colombo, there was a real sickening feeling seeing the destruction that was caused and that’s why it is vital that we just get on with it.”

Sri Lanka lead the series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Kandy by 88 runs. The start of the final Test has been pushed back two hours to noon local time (0630 GMT) after an afternoon downpour on Monday.


England (from): Michael Vaughan (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Matthew Hoggard, Phil Mustard (wicketkeeper), Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Steve Harmison

Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Michael Vandort, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Silva, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Prasanna Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Chanaka Welagedera, Malinga Bandara, Sujeewa de Silva, Muttiah Muralidharan.

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