England aiming to tie the loose ends

Ahmedabad: Stuart Broad, the England vice-captain, and fellow pace bowler Steven Finn are expected to miss their final warm-up game ahead of the four-Test series with India after the duo failed to recover from injuries.

Finn suffered a thigh strain in the first tour match against India A, and Broad then bruised his left heel against Mumbai A.

Both went for scans which did not reveal serious injury last week, and it is still thought likely Broad at least will be ready for the first Test of four in Ahmedabad, on November 15.

Neither he nor Finn, however, appear set to play against Haryana in a four-day match which begins on the adjacent ground on Thursday.

England batting coach Graham Gooch, speaking before Wednesday's team meeting, made it clear he was not "100 per cent sure" about selection.

But he added: "I think it's unlikely that they will be considered for this game. They've both got injuries, and I don't think they're going to be ready for this game."

Finn managed only four overs before going off injured.

Broad got through 10 and was able to take the field, but not bowl, the day after he had his scan.

Broad and Finn's anticipated absence means there is sure to be an opportunity for Graham Onions to show what he can do again.

James Anderson has played both previous warm-up matches, so may well be rested before the first Test, and the other seam-bowling duties against Haryana will probably therefore fall to Tim Bresnan and Stuart Meaker.

The latter was called up as cover for Finn but arrived in India only Tuesday, after hasty arrangements to secure him a visa as quickly as possible.

Gooch was more equivocal, meanwhile, about the identity of Alastair Cook's most likely opening partner on Thursday ' and in the first Test.

It is thought Nick Compton's unbeaten half-century in Mumbai on Monday has inched him ahead of Joe Root in the battle for an international debut next week.

Gooch said of Compton: "He's had a couple of chances already, and Joe Root also played in the last match.

"I think they're two very good players, obviously at different levels of their career.

"One has been in the first-class game for quite a while, and gained experience and found his mark, found the way he can score runs and been very successful over the last couple of years for Somerset.

"The other lad is obviously a young, exciting player. He has a good technique from what I've seen ' this is the first time I've seen him close up ' and he bowls a bit. So it's going to be quite a difficult selection."

Others will come into consideration, perhaps on Thursday or next week, while certainly for the second Test when incumbent number five Ian Bell flies home for the birth of his first child.

"Then you've got Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Samit Patel all bidding for places," said Gooch.

"I like competition for places; you want that, people to be putting their hand up and saying 'I want that place in the side'."

England were, however, deprived of opportunities to test themselves against quality spin bowling as the hosts did not include any top-grade tweakers in the practice matches.

In a late development, off-spinner Swann flew home to spend time with daughter, who is unwell. However, he is expected to return before the Ahmedabad Test.

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