India vs England: M S Dhoni skips practice, Ishant Sharma fit again

Written by PTI | London | Updated: Aug 14 2014, 03:17am hrs
In the build-up to the fifth and final Test against England, India today regrouped here at the Oval as they looked to put behind the disappointment of their embarrassing innings defeat in the last game, even though skipper M S Dhoni was a notable absentee at the nets.

However, the Indian team received a major boost ahead of their must-win game, as medium-pacer Ishant Sharma was deemed fit again.

The hosts lead the five-match series 2-1 after four Tests, with the visitors having crashed to an innings-and-54-run defeat at Manchester within three days in the fourth game. Since then, this was the first time this touring squad took to the nets.

Rain came incessantly in Manchester after their surrender on day three on August 9 and the players kept to the team hotel taking some time off from cricket. They travelled back to London yesterday and today looked to regain some energy and spirit going into the final Test, starting on Friday.

For one man though, three days off weren't enough. Dhoni missed today's practice session and the official word from the team management was that the wicketkeeper-batsman was just taking some rest and spending time with his family after the nearly five-hour bus journey the day prior.

In his absence, coach Duncan Fletcher and vice-captain Virat Kohli led the team in practice.

The Delhi seamer Sharma returned to London before the rest of the squad and had a session at the Oval yesterday. He bowled for a long duration during nets today as well.

The final decision on his fitness will, in probability, be taken on Thursday when Dhoni is expected to come to the net session.

The last time Sharma was the part of the playing eleven, he turned out to be the key player in India's 95-run win in the second Test at Lord's.

If he is assessed fit to play in the final Test, the Indian pace attack, which has looked light-weight in Sharma's absence, would get a major boost.