DCSIMG

Cricket: Vulnerable England still hopeful of draw against India

  • by DAVID CLOUGH
 

England face a long haul to salvage a stalemate in the first Test, but remain confident they have the ability to do so.

The tourists replied badly to India’s 521 for eight declared, losing three wickets in as many overs to the home spinners to close day two on a vulnerable 41 for three.

They may therefore need to bat for the vast majority of three days – eking all they can out of 17 wickets, unless they can take the follow-on out of the equation – to prevent India going 1-0 up with three to play.

Samit Patel will be one of those called upon to prove England’s mettle and after also bowling 31 overs on a pitch offering slow turn and low bounce, he sees no reason why the tourists cannot return in kind plenty of the runs scored by Cheteshwar Pujara (206no), fellow centurion Virender Sehwag et al at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

“We’ve got two world-class batsmen at the crease, Belly [Ian Bell] still to come, myself and Matty P [Matt Prior],” said Patel.

“There’s no question about how long we can bat. We’ve got the same potential of batting as India have – and we’ve got to keep believing that.”

He expects occupation to become easier against Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha once the ball in their hands takes some wear and tear.

“The ball’s harder, and I think it spins more when the ball’s harder,” he said. “The telling time will be when the ball gets soft; then we can get in. You have to earn the right to get in first, and I think Cookie [Alastair Cook] and Kev [Kevin Pietersen] in the morning have got to bat well.”

England have endured a chastening two days at the start of a tour they knew from the outset would be tough, and their initial experience concluded with cricket’s classic double-punch – late wickets lost by a team tired physically and mentally after long exertions in the field.

Pujara was prepared to defend and be patient for long periods, and that approach paid off.

“I never like to get out,” said the India number three. “There’s always a price on my wicket. Even when I’ve scored a double-hundred I never want to give it away.”

Unsurprisingly, he does not appear to rate England’s chances of survival. “There’s nothing wrong with the wicket,” he said. “The ball is turning.

“We’ve got three England wickets... I think we’ve utilised the conditions better than them.

“It’s going to be a challenging task for them, because the way they were batting it looked like they were a fragile line-up.

“The kind of momentum we’ve got in these 18 overs, I think we can get them all out by tomorrow (evening).

 

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