Swann is back but doubts remain over Finn and Broad
Selection of injured pacemen for first Test against India is likely to prove a risk too far
Graeme Swann will rejoin England in India today after his brief excursion home. He will be available for the first Test against India, which begins here on Thursday, and as the first-choice spinner will play unless two long-haul flights in five days have disturbed his equilibrium.
Alastair Cook, the England captain, said: "This is good news and it's fantastic for us that he's coming back and that all is well at home. Making two long flights is not ideal but he is an experienced campaigner and I've no doubts or concerns about Swanny."
Swann left for home last Wednesday because his three-week-old daughter, Charlotte, was ill. Although England were confident of his return there must have been an element of doubt until he boarded the plane.
If Cook is sanguine about Swann, it may be different when the selectors come to decide on the other bowlers. Although England had much the better of the fourth day in their final warm-up match against Haryana, the fast bowlers Stuart Broad and Steve Finn, with heel and thigh injuries respectively, remain doubtful for the opening Test.
Both bowled in the nets yesterday but even if both show no ill effects fielding them in a Test as part of a four-man attack would be bold at best, reckless at worst. Their lack of match practice merely compounds the difficulty.
Cook said: "The next few days are vital for them and we must go into the game with a fully-fit attack. They have to be 100 per cent because you can see how hot it is here and how flat the wickets are.
"They would have liked more match bowling and the preparation period hasn't quite gone right. We'll see over the next few days and make a decision but we have to be very careful."
England will be content to have had three safe draws in the warm-up matches, though mildly disappointed not to have secured a win against Haryana on the fourth day. They took their second innings to 254 for 7, leaving their opponents a nominal target of 442. Jonathan Trott made a diligent century from 180 balls, while Ian Bell, who sliced a catch to gully for 48, might have liked more batting time.
England were still deprived of much batting against spin but Cook seemed as if he almost expected it. He said: "We've had some quality spin bowling in the nets and everybody has put in really good practice. But we would have liked to face more spin in the matches and clearly a message has gone out."
With a possible seam place at stake, David Saker, England's fast bowling coach, barely moved from his position behind the bowler's arm at the Motara B ground yesterday afternoon, closely monitoring the performances of Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions and Stuart Meaker.
It was Bresnan, though, who put himself ahead in the reckoning with two wickets, both catches off the edge, and some late reverse swing, as the sides shook hands with Haryana on 133 for 6.
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