Blow for Bopara with injury set to prevent all-rounder from bowling against Sri Lanka
10:23 GMT, 22 March 2012
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.
Struggling: Ravi Bopara is not expected to bowl after picking up an injury
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.
Options: Bopara will be fine to bat against Sri Lanka
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 against the Board XI.
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.