sport

Saker: Broad form is an issue

Stuart Broad's lacklustre bowling form is an "issue" England need to confront as they seek to consolidate their second-Test win over India.

Alastair Cook's tourists levelled the four-match series with a 10-wicket victory at the Wankhede Stadium, where Kevin Pietersen and the captain's centuries and Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann's wickets were too much for the hosts.

Hopes are therefore raised that they can become the first England team since 1984-85 to win a Test series in India.

An atmosphere of renewed confidence is evident throughout the team, with the exception of vice-captain Broad - who declared himself fit for the second Test, despite feeling unwell the day beforehand, and then managed only 12 wicketless overs at a cost of 60 runs.

England bowling coach David Saker is doing all he can to help Broad rediscover his best form in time for the third Test in Kolkata - a match which could yet instead feature Steven Finn.

The latter was today set to test his recovery from a thigh strain, in a three-day match for the England Performance Programme squad against the DY Patil Academy in Mumbai.

As for Broad, Saker said: "It is a bit of an issue.

"He has not bowled as we would have liked. But he's not the first bowler to come over here and find it hard."

Even some of the world's best all-time pace bowlers have struggled, in fact, to be effective in sub-continental conditions.

Saker added: "Stuart's not a great yet. He has to learn ways to become great.

"If he gets the next Test he has to be ready for it.

"During my tenure as bowling coach, I haven't had too many players down in confidence and form. "I hope I can do some stuff over the next few days that can help."

Finn has played no part on tour, since injuring himself after just four overs in the first warm-up match against India A last month.

If he fails to come through the EPP fixture safely, he will go home.

But England are reluctant to tread that path, because they know their tallest seamer could yet be the missing ingredient which could help to see them to another precious victory here.

"We've got our fingers crossed he gets through, number one; if he gets through unscathed and bowls well, his name will definitely be talked about for selection," said Saker, with an eye to Kolkata.

"He's got that x-factor, a bit of pace, that height that always means you could get variable bounce over here - so his name will be bandied around for sure for that second seamer's spot."

Finn appeared to be recovering well until a setback just before the second Test, and for that reason England are taking nothing for granted.

"We were really confident he'd be right for this Test, so I'm not sure," said Saker. "I've just got my fingers crossed he gets through; if he does, we can make a decision.

"We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We want to make sure he gets through his three or four spells and gets some rhythm; then his name will come up."

The depth of anxiety among England's management was significant after the nine-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad.

It was England's fifth in Asian conditions this year, and Saker said: "I think everyone in the group was feeling pressure, there's no doubt about that.

"I can only talk from where I was coming from, but I was questioning myself as to whether we were doing the right things.

"If I'm doing that, I think probably others in the camp were wondering if we were going in the right direction."

Series-levelling success in Mumbai has changed all that.

"I wasn't sure what we'd get out of the group ... but it turned out to be as good a win as I've ever experienced with them.

"It wasn't relief; it was a feeling of all the work we've done with this group against spin, and playing in the sub-continent, had come off - and we were really pleased with that."