Broad and Dhoni miss practice

England's Stuart Broad was hit by a Varun Aaron bouncer in the fourth Test

England's Stuart Broad was hit by a Varun Aaron bouncer in the fourth Test

First published in National Sport News © by

Stuart Broad was one of two notable absentees from practice at The Oval before the fifth Investec Test between England and India.

It was thought Broad, perhaps wearing a protective mask of some description on the nose which was broken by a Varun Aaron bouncer in England's win at Old Trafford last week, would be present and correct at nets.

Instead, like visiting captain captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni when India held their voluntary practice a few hours earlier, Broad was the only member of his team missing on Wednesday afternoon.

Dhoni did not attend at all - and although there were variant rumours of trips to a shooting range or the zoo, the official explanation from India was simply that their captain was resting.

Broad was at the ground but took no part in training.

His inaction, according to England, was "planned" and will not impact on his availability when the hosts set out on Friday to defend a 2-1 lead in the last match of the series.

It was reported after the victory in Manchester, where the fast bowler was man of the match, that - despite stitches in his nose - he was expecting to be fit for purpose at The Oval.

Team-mate Joe Root is certainly still optimistic Broad will be able to partner James Anderson with the new ball as usual.

Whether he does so with a protective face covering, merely needs that to bat or not at all, remains a matter of conjecture which will depend on ongoing advice from specialists.

Either way, with two black eyes and an 'x-marks-the-spot' wound, England's blond bombshell is not looking quite his best.

"It's not very pretty," said Root. "He's not got his 'boy-band' looks you'd normally associate with Stuart.

"He's milking it definitely...as you'll probably have seen on all the social network sites.

"But I'm sure he'll be desperate to play on Friday. He's obviously in good form...and will be wanting to finish the series strongly with the rest of us."

Broad's bowling helped England to an emphatic victory as they established a series lead, by which time he was watching from a hospital bed.

It continued a comeback for Alastair Cook's team, from 1-0 down with three to play, which began with an equally impressive performance at the Ageas Bowl.

There has been a controversial backdrop thanks to Anderson's spat with India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, dating from lunch on day two of the series at Trent Bridge.

Root senses, though, that the saga - which eventually came to nought after both players were cleared by the International Cricket Council - may have had a galvanising effect for England.

Cook made it clear, when the disciplinary process was becoming vexed before the second Test at Lord's, that England did not believe the altercation merited charges under the ICC's code of conduct.

Root added: "That may be one way where we did get slightly more tight.

"It gave us another incentive to want to throw a punch back at them.

"The good thing that came from that was that we didn't let it affect us."

England are nonetheless well aware that their summer's work is far from done - as Root is at pains to acknowledge.

"I don't think we can really rest on the fact we've played well in the last couple of games.

"We will really try to nail down what has been a good little bit of form in the last two games.

"We're definitely not going to take India lightly."

The visitors' use of the short ball has taxed several England batsmen, and perhaps provided an uncomfortable reminder of their troubles against Mitchell Johnson last winter and of the threat which will be posed again in next summer's Ashes rematch.

"We know India are going to come very hard at us, and we'll have to make sure we've got all bases covered and not be caught off guard," said Root.

"That [short ball] will be one area I'm sure a lot of the lads will be working on within their own games."

As for a re-engagement with Johnson, he is not losing any sleep just yet.

"It's not really a massive concern on my part," he continued.

"Guys know where their games are, where they need to improve.

"If they think that's an area, I'm sure they'll work on it."

Root had his problems in Australia, but has returned to form and made a success of batting at number five.

He added: "If anything, that winter put things in perspective for me.

"I obviously struggled, as did a lot of people out in Australia.

"Something I've taken from that trip is that when you get in you have to make sure you take it.

"A lot of people have taken that attitude over this summer, and it's shown."

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