x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Champions Trophy: Graeme Swann swoops back to England fold

Off-spinner fit for home team ahead of Group A clash with Sri Lanka after battling back problem.

Graeme Swann has had fitness issues in the recent past. Ajit Solanki / AP Photo
Graeme Swann has had fitness issues in the recent past. Ajit Solanki / AP Photo

England will have Graeme Swann back in their ranks as they look to move closer to the knockout stages of the ICC Champions Trophy by beating Sri Lanka at The Oval.

The hosts could move in to the final four of the competition if they beat Sri Lanka on Thursday.

England beat Australia by 48 runs in their curtain-raiser at Edgbaston last Saturday without Swann, who was suffering from a back problem.

The Nottinghamshire spinner, who took eight wickets against Sri Lanka when they toured England in 2011, trained with his teammates yesterday and is expected to replace James Tredwell.

"Swanny is fit," England captain Alastair Cook said. "His injury was a strange one. He must have jarred his back in training and woke up with a stiff back the next day.

"That can happen but, at the moment, he is back and available for selection."

England cruised to victory against Australia last week thanks to 91 from Ian Bell and three wickets from James Anderson.

The performance was a marked improvement on the team's efforts earlier this summer when they fell to a shock 2-1 one-day series defeat against New Zealand.

Cook now believes his team are back on track.

"The win against Australia was a good one, as was the last one against New Zealand," he said. "The first two games against New Zealand seem to be out of the way. We seem to have recovered a bit of form and confidence now.

"It's a vitally important game, we can make a really big stride towards the semi-finals if we win."

Lasith Malinga's ability to bowl flat, often slow, yorkers has bamboozled batsmen across the world and he has a good record in England.

The 29 year old took four wickets during Sri Lanka's narrow defeat to New Zealand in their Group A opener last week, but Cook is sure England can handle him.

"Malinga has improved that slower ball and he has looked dangerous," he said. "It's something we have to be aware of and we have looked at footage of it. If you get used to facing him you can get in to a rhythm.

"If we can play him well as a unit it can really put Sri Lanka under some pressure."

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