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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

England vs Afghanistan: Ben Stokes back in full training

Ben seems to be getting better day by day. He trained really well last night (Friday), says Joe Root

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 15.10.23, 09:09 AM
Rashid Khan.

Rashid Khan. PTI picture

Ben Stokes is back to training, running and batting at nets as well. Yet, he isn’t a certainty when England face Afghanistan in their next World Cup game at the Ferozeshah Kotla in New Delhi on Sunday.

The sore left hip kept Stokes out of the tournament opener versus New Zealand followed by the game against Bangladesh. His condition is improving, as senior England batsman Joe Root said on Saturday, but the defending champions still have their fingers crossed over Stokes’ return.

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“Ben seems to be getting better day by day. He trained really well last night (Friday). Obviously, he had a long bat, did his running and seems to be improving. So, all good signs ahead of tomorrow (Sunday).

“As we all know, we have a team with Ben in it, and it’s a lot stronger.

“But he has got to be fit to play and we’ll see whether that’s the case for tomorrow (Sunday), whether it’s the next game or further down the line,” Root said at the pre-match news conference.

England haven’t been too convincing so far in their Cup campaign, while on Sunday, their actual battle will be against the Afghanistan spin attack led by Rashid Khan. Afghanistan need to make sure the leg-spinner is brought on early and not kept behind as was the case against India last Wednesday.

After being hammered to all corners by Rohit Sharma the other night at the Kotla, the Afghan bowlers will be up for another massive test against England’s explosive batting line-up. England, however, aren’t taking the Afghans lightly at all.

“Every team in this tournament poses slightly different threats and you’ve to be ready and adaptable to combat them. From our point of view, we’ve just got to keep getting better,” Root emphasised.

Opposition head coach Jonathan Trott, also a former England batsman, backed his players for showing character at a time the western part of Afghanistan has been ravaged by a severe earthquake.

“A lot of players have donated from their match fees. They’ve been really good and I’m sure their thoughts go out to their countrymen and women,” Trott said.

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