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 India captain MS Dhoni when India held their practice earlier, Broad was missing on Wednesday afternoon.

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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 tomorrow to protect a 2-1 lead in the last match of the series.

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

"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."