London: The series already out of their bag, Indian cricketers on Tuesday went through the motion in an optional practice session, clearly showing lack of intensity ahead of the fourth and final cricket Test on Thursday.

Team India, without pacer Praveen Kumar, had the looks of a bruised and battered outfit as they trooped in at The Oval.

Praveen, who was hit on his right thumb on the last day of the Edgbaston Test, is expected to recover in time for the final match of the series though any official word is yet to come.

An Indian team communique earlier in the day informed the media that the visitors would be having only optional practice session, which sounded incredible given the fact that they had stayed away from the ground for the last two days.

Everyone, be it batters or bowlers, need to pick themselves up for the final Test but what one witnessed in the middle was just the opposite.

Among regular pacers, only Munaf Patel bent his back.

Admittedly, Praveen, Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth have had a heavy workload but the reserves needed a good stint out in the middle, besides offering good practice to batters. But it was not quite visible from the outside.

Interestingly, a whole army of net bowlers were there to help out the Indians. A casual count put the number to 15 but the quality was not the kind to keep the heartbeat racing.

The team began with a session of yoga in the middle, followed by the usual session of football before stretching themselves out off the railings.

A few attempts at slip catching and thrown-downs to stumps were made but there was nothing which could remotely be called serious.

The contrast with the England team could not have been starker. The home squad was broken up in a few groups who simulated catching practice for the pace and spin bowling.

There was a lot of energy and intensity as if the squad was fighting for its survival.

Quite a few members of the England squad threw balls on the pitch to test out the bounce.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior, meanwhile, had practice against Merlyn, the spin bowling machine which can replicate leg, off, left-arm spin and all kind of variations which tweakers employ.
 
Prior missed out on two stumpings in the closing hours of the Edgbaston Test and he was out there to do the correctives.

Pacer James Anderson, who is suffering from stiffness, did field but never came out to bowl. Nothing much though could be read into it for he still has time to recover for the game.

England looked like a side which is taking no chances as against India, who appeared resigned to their fate.

(Agencies)