Broad and Finn close in on first Test fitness goal

ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook has received a welcome boost ahead of his side’s opening Test against India on Thursday after key seamers Stuart Broad and Steven Finn came through a practice session unscathed.

Cook played in England’s final warm-up game yesterday, which ended in a draw against Haryana, yet attention quickly turned to the nets where Broad and Finn continued their recoveries from respective heel and thigh injuries.

It raises the prospect that England could have their first-choice attack available for the first Test in Ahmedabad, with spinner Graeme Swann set to rejoin the squad today.

“It is encouraging – it’s great to see Stuart and Finny back bowling. The next few days are vital for them,” Cook said, after batting in both innings of England’s draw.

“We must go into that game [on Thursday] with a fully-fit attack. They have to be 100 per cent, because you see how hot it is here and how flat the wickets are.”

England faced very little spin in their final tour game, yet must be prepared for a far sterner test from India’s first choice spin attack.

Swann, who last week flew home to England to tend to his ill daughter, is almost certain to be named in the squad, but England will carry out late fitness tests on Broad and Finn.

“We’ll have to assess these guys over the next 24 to 48 hours,” Cook said. “Clearly, we’ve got to be very careful. It’d be great if they were fully fit, and had some overs under their belt, but they haven’t.”

Haryana ended on 133-6 after 42 overs of their second innings. Jonathan Trott, who retired unbeaten on 101, gave England a considerable advantage while Somerset batsman Nick Compton (79) enhanced his hopes of opening against India.

Yet despite his team leading by 308 runs and being in a position to win, Cook shook hands with opposing captain Amit Mishra to settle for a draw.

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