England optimistic about Anderson's fitness
Bikash Mohapatra reports from The Oval.
While India is sweating on Praveen Kumar's fitness ahead of the fourth Test at The Oval, beginning Thursday, there is some good news for England.
James Anderson, England's bowling spearhead and one of their key performers with 18 wickets (@ 24.27) from the three Tests played in the series, is likely to be fit for the final Test.
Anderson experienced tightness in his right quadriceps following England's victory at Edgbaston, and, subsequently, there were doubts over his availability for The Oval match.
With Chris Tremlett being ruled out, Graham Onions was called up as cover.
Image: James Anderson goes through a fitness Test at the Oval
Photographs: Getty Images
'It seems nothing more than a niggle'
However, after training over the last two days, the signals on the bowler's fitness are positive.
After Graeme Swann expressed confidence about the bowler's availability on Tuesday, there was further corroboration on Wednesday.
"We are optimistic that he is fit to play," said Andrew Strauss, when asked about Anderson's availability.
England's captain, however, remained guarded when asked to confirm the bowler's participation in the Test.
"He has had a good session at the nets," he said, adding, "It seems nothing more than a niggle at the moment.
"However, as in every case, we will make the decision only after having a final look."
Image: James Anderson during training at The Oval
'We have set a precedent for resting players'
Asked if it would be better to rest Anderson, considering he is a key part of the one-day side -- and England plays a plethora of ODIs in the coming months -- Strauss was circumspect in his response.
"We have set a precedent for resting players in the past. It is a sensible thing to do.
"But we will do that (in Anderson's case) only if we are certain about it."
Should Anderson be included in England's starting line-up, as expected, it would mean more bad news for India.
Image: James Anderson
Injury may keep Praveen Kumar out
Meanwhile, there's was bad news for Indian fans.
Even as the visitors try to salvage what has been a woeful England series thus far, they might just be without their best bowler on the tour.
Praveen Kumar, who has claimed 15 wickets (@ 29.53), is a doubtful starter for the Test.
The 24-year-old was hit on the thumb by a James Anderson delivery while batting in the second innings at Edgbaston, and is likely to be ruled out of the game.
Kumar, who is among the handful of performers (along with Rahul Dravid and Ishant Sharma) for India in the ongoing series, bowled a whopping 158.3 overs in the three Tests played.
In his absence the visitors have their task cut out as they try to prevent a series whitewash.
Image: Praveen Kumar