Steven Finn doubtful for fourth Test against India

England bowler misses net practice

England's final preparations for the crucial fourth Test were thrown into disarray today by injury to the fast bowler Steve Finn. With his colleague Stuart Broad already out of the match they are faced with the prospect of bringing in a player desperately short of match practice, out of form or both to play a key role in a potentially historic confrontation.

Finn has a disc strain in his lower back and did not train at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur this morning. A final decision will be taken on his place shortly before play tomorrow but the signs are extremely discouraging.

He was accompanied to the local hospital's scanning machine by Broad, where it was confirmed that a recurrence of a heel injury will definitely preclude his selection for the match.

If both are declared unfit, England will be left with a choice between Tim Bresnan, who played in the opening Test in Ahmedabad, and Graham Onions, who has been drinks carrying for most of the tour.

More improbably, they could play three spinners and pick the off-break bowler James Tredwell, recently appointed as the new Kent captain.

With the outcome of the series depending on the result at the VCA Stadium, the tourists, already 2-1 ahead, would have preferred a less dramatic eve of match.

Finn's tour has been dogged by injury and he missed the first two Tests with a thigh strain.

Recovering in time for the third, his sheer pace made an immediate difference, giving the Indian top order the hurry up even on a slow Kolkata surface. His absence would be felt because nobody else in the squad can match his speed. A different mode of attack would be necessary.

Had Broad been fit he could have been expected to take over despite his travails on this tour so far. But he is now in danger of missing the two Twenty20's which follow the Test matches and given the fact that the injury has recurred, England will be keen for him not to rush back again.

Bresnan was disappointing in the First Test defeat at Ahmedabad and might struggle to adapt to a role as one of only two seamers. But Onions has barely bowled all tour, has not played a Test since the summer and it would be a risk to ask him to keep India's batsmen quiet on what looks, against all expectations, to be a belting surface.

If these are belated difficulties that England could do without, their captain, Alastair Cook, was not to be distracted from the matter at hand.

He said today: "Everyone knows how important and how big the game is but as a player you take that emotion out of it. When you're out there you have got to make sure that you're fully focused on what your job is and the state of the game. You have to be very ruthless in that way."

Nobody is more focused than Cook as he has resoundingly confirmed with centuries in each of the three matches so far. In the past month it has elevated his status as both batsman and captain to unforeseen heights.

If Cook can once more erect a solid platform for England they could well win the match and the series 3-1. The slight worry is if he fails, as sometime he must, and the rest of the top order will have to do it without him.

India, however, may not be in good enough order to take advantage of the tourists' misfortunes.

They go into the match under a dark cloud which is being constantly replenished by a baying media.

The position of the captain, MS Dhoni, is the subject of daily speculation as is that of coach Duncan Fletcher and stellar batsman Sachin Tendulkar. Dhoni, like Cook, rises above it all.

"It's part of Indian cricket, everything is under the microscope and everyone has an opinion about cricket.

"The good thing and the bad thing is that everybody asks the questions we're also asking but nobody comes up with a solution."

Nagpur holds a special place in Cook's heart because he made his Test debut here almost seven years ago and scored a hundred.

That was at the old VCA ground in downtown Nagpur, the last Test to be played there before the gleaming new out of town edifice was built.

"It is a fantastic new stadium but for me personally the other one had a lot of sentimental value," said Cook. "But hopefully by the end of these five days this one will do as well."

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style