After a week of will-they, won't-they, England's bowling stocks for the first Test against India became clearer yesterday. Steve Finn will miss the match which starts tomorrow, Stuart Broad looks certain to be available and therefore will play.
For a few days, it had seemed as though Finn's thigh injury was recovering more quickly than Broad's heel complaint but England are determined that they can take no risks with him. Finn is their fastest bowler and the feeling is that he can be their most incisive attacker by the time this series is done.
The judgement seems to have been made on Monday evening that it would be wiser to give Finn a clear run to be fit for the second match in Mumbai next week. He did not bowl in England's net session yesterday and looked rather dejected as he took little part either in their fielding session.
Broad will presumably open the bowling with Jimmy Anderson for the 25th match; one behind Andrew Caddick and Darren Gough, with Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard, and Brian Statham and Fred Trueman in front of them. Broad bowled two short spells yesterday and reported no ill effects.
It is as well because while England are proud of the depth of their fast bowling resources they would not wish to be without two first-choice bowlers so early in the series. As it is, Tim Bresnan, who lost his place to Finn late last summer, should fit neatly back into place. He will definitely lengthen the batting. Nick Compton will make his debut, opening the batting with Alastair Cook, who is in his first official outing as captain. Graeme Swann trained effectively yesterday after returning to the squad following his brief visit home.
There was a mild moment of fright at practice when Kevin Pietersen was hit on a finger while fielding. He was uninjured but after all the fuss there would have been a certain irony if more damage had been caused.
India (probable): G Gambhir, V Sehwag, C A Pujara, S R Tendulkar, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, M S Dhoni (capt/wkt), R Ashwin, Z Khan, P P Ojha, U T Yadav.
England (probable): A N Cook (capt), N R D Compton, I J L Trott, K P Pietersen, I R Bell, S R Patel, M J Prior (wkt), T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson.
TV Tomorrow morning, Sky Sports 1, from 3.30am.
First Test odds India 13-10, Draw 11-8, England 4-1.