Haryana v England, Ahmedabad, 2nd day November 9, 2012

Haryana pose questions for tourists


Haryana 172 for 4 (Dewan 77*, Singh 55) trail England XI 521 (Pietersen 110, Cook 97, Compton 74, Bell 62, Patel 67) by 349 runs

If England had any illusions about the enormity of their task in India, they would have largely been dispelled on the second day against Haryana.

Having lost their last five wickets for 14 runs in the morning session, England's bowlers then spent the rest of the day toiling under a hot sun, claiming just four wickets in 61 overs. Matt Prior was forced off the pitch suffering from a stomach upset and, perhaps more worryingly, the Haryana offspinner, Jayant Yadav, delivered a less than glowing review of England's performance against spin bowling.

While England's total of 521 underlines the ease with which the batsmen flourished for the main, it is worth noting that against 40.1 overs of spin they lost eight wickets for 177. Yadav, an unremarkable bowler playing only his fifth first-class game, finished with 4 for 110, the best figures of his career to date.

It may be wrong to read too much into that. In the latter stages of the innings, with the total over 500 and the lack of intensity in the match situation producing lethargic cricket, England played some carefree strokes. But, given England's recent history against spin bowling, and bearing in mind that this surface is offering precious little help to bowlers of any type, those statistics will be just a little unsettling.

England's top-order looked comfortable against Yadav. Several batsmen, notably Ian Bell, Nick Compton, Prior and Kevin Pietersen, quickly took advantage of the lack of spin to come down the pitch to drive him over the top. But, far from being impressed by such confidence, Yadav interpreted it as a sign of insecurity.

"They looked very uncomfortable against spin," Yadav said. "That's why they resorted to playing that way. If you are comfortable you play from the crease. You would use your feet once or twice. But from the outset they had a mindset to attack the spinners, because they were unsure how to play them. The wicket was not offering much to the spinners. It was very slow and didn't turn much at all. There were uncomfortable."

Whether that is fair or not, it is certainl that England's tail - without Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad - folded quickly. After Bell fell early, attempting to run one to third man but edging to slip, Samit Patel and Prior added 69 in 12 overs. Both looked in fine form, with Patel registering his third score over 50 in succession on the tour. He could hardly have done more to nail down the No. 6 position for the first Test.

But when Prior, perhaps already feeling unwell, skipped down the pitch and missed one, it precipitated a sharp decline. Tim Bresnan and Patel, unwilling to grind out runs with the total already over 500, both slogged down the throat of long-on, before Stuart Meaker's drive was sharply taken by Amit Mishra in his follow through and Graham Onions was bowled playing back to one that skidded on. So, it was five quick wickets, but a far cry from the hopeless displays that characterised the trip to the UAE earlier in the year.

England's bowlers were also made to work hard. While Nitin Saini, unsettled by a good bouncer, soon steered Bresnan to point, Rahul Dewan and Sunny Singh added 97 for the second wicket. At one stage Singh, a man with a first-class triple century to his name, took Bresnan for three successive boundaries and also skipped down the pitch to drive Patel for successive fours, while Dewan, cutting particularly well, hit Onions for two boundaries in a row and looked a well organised, patient batsman. He enjoyed only one moment of fortune when Prior, clearly unwell by this stage, dropped a tough chance down the leg side off Meaker's second delivery.

Poor Prior was obliged to make two emergency dashes for the bathroom, but England's initial request to use a substitute wicketkeeper from outside their playing XI was declined by the umpires and match referee. While the convention in English domestic cricket permits a substitution on the grounds that the ECB believes that county cricket could be lessened as a spectacle by the use of a make-shift wicket-keeper, the Laws of the game (Law 2:3 specifically) actually forbid it. Ultimately, however, the BCCI, in an admirably magnanimous gesture, were contacted and made a special dispensation towards England. Jonny Bairstow took the gloves and Prior retired to a dark room.

England did eventually break through - Jonathan Trott clinging on to the first of two sharp catches in the slips - but Bresnan later rated the wicket the best for batting he had ever experienced.

"That wicket out there is possibly the best I've ever bowled on," he said. "It's unbelievable. It's easy-paced, has nice bounce and just comes on to the bat lovely. You get the feeling you're in an 'indoor school' scenario. It's not doing much off the straight, not seaming, not really bouncing much - and it's not spinning at all. So it's difficult."

All three of England's seamers worked up a decent pace - Meaker in particular - but the line was just a little too wayward to build any pressure. Monty Panesar, in stock bowler mode, gave away little and, on a warm afternoon against determined but limited batsmen, the game drifted in somnambulant fashion. Indeed, it will tell you much about the day that the most entertaining moment came when play was briefly suspended while two monkeys ran across the pitch and enjoyed a romantic liaison at third man. You don't see too much of that sort of thing at Lord's.

There was better news off the pitch for England, though. Steven Finn has improved more than expected and was able to bowl off his full run-up in the nets and, while Stuart Broad continued to rest and Graeme Swann remains in the UK, both are expected to be available for the first Test.

"Finn is off his full run now," Bresnan said. "That's a very good sign. With six days to go, there's no reason why he shouldn't be fully fit. If he can bowl at 90mph plus consistently, and get that bounce and lift, he's going to add to any team. He would probably get in any side in the world at the minute."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Manoj on November 11, 2012, 1:43 GMT

    What the hell this Yadav guy is talking about? Did he get smashed on his head by the England top order attacks and got mad? This shows the poor knowledge of Indian spinners about batting. Did he mean England batsmen danced down the track each and every ball he delivered? England bowlers might have smashed down the ground most of the balls with couple of balls playing in the line. This shows the poor bowling attack of the bowler (Yadav). That is bowling was too easy so the batsmen could dance down the track and smash all over the ground for most of the balls. If the attack was good, England batsmen would play in the line for most of the balls and dance down the track for poor balls (only 1-2 per over). Look at his strike rate 4.78 runs per over and compare with the England spinners. I feel sorry about the poor guy Yadav. He seems to be thinking too much about him.

  • vinay on November 10, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    samit patel looks good for eng, not as a bowler but definitely as a batter. nice performances by him recently.

  • S on November 10, 2012, 3:41 GMT

    why is Harshal Patel not playing foir Haryana?

  • John on November 10, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    The fact that an Indian bowler interprets positive batting as a sign of insecurity troubles me little. There's no doubt that England were far too negative against spin in UAE and also the first innings in SL. They tried to play more positively in the second innings of the first Test in SL but it was too little too late. They looked far more comfortable in the second Test playing what you would consider just normal cricket and the result speaks for itself. The fact that they are using their feet here suggests that they are going to look to play positively and that's great news. Against better bowlers on more helpful pitches in the Tests, I'm sure that they won't be skipping down the pitch every second ball but they must at least stay positive. It's not a great sign that the England bowlers haven't taken a few more wickets though, against what I assume is a fairly average batting lineup. Not England's frontline attack but even so, I had hoped for more.

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    To be honest, I'd have been surprised if England hadn't scored 400+ against Haryana. Their bowling attack is decidedly mediocre and any player of international quality should be able to batter them, especially in conditions this good for batting.

    Also, England's first XI, didn't really perform that well against India A and Yuvvi's pies. How well Cook and KP bat will be the decider here. The former can sit at the crease and grind you out for ages if he gets in and the latter can bash you around the park, if those two don't get a good start in spinning conditions England will be in serious trouble.

  • Colin on November 9, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    Prior wanted runs before the first test but perhaps not of this kind...

  • Dummy4 on November 9, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    England don't play spin all that well. We know that, but we also know that a lot of the problems they have with spin are related to DRS. Umpires are more likely to give an LBW to a spinner when the batsman is on the front foot because of DRS, but I can't help but think tactically that India have made a mistake not implementing it. Given the Indian selections for the warm up games, I'm surprised that they have not asked for DRS. (I understand they are against it, but they seem really keen win at all costs.)

    I for one was there to watch Broad's hattrick ball at Trent Bridge and had no sympathy whatsoever when the incorrect decision was given. That type of decision is why the system should always be used in my book.

    Despite our poor performances with the bat in Pakistan, we did get into winning positions in some games. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same here, even if I'm not overly confident.

    And as a English Club Cricketer I can assure I seldom play in cattle grazing fields...

  • V.L on November 9, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    @A_Vacant_Slip The question posed is English batsmen folding up after adding too few runs to their overnight score and the seamers toiling in the sun against a second string Haryana side for 61 overs with little to show for. If Haryana can get past follow on and make England bat again tomorrow, it would be interesting to watch.

  • paul on November 9, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    Some really strange comments, England scored over 400 runs in a day then the tail enders had a slog out at the end, so the second string bowlers can get a few overs under their belts. On a pitch that England scored at 4.4 rpo and KP retired after smashing the bowlers as if they were bowling like 11 year old girls, so to let others have a go. 172-4 is hardly good on a pitch like this especially facing essentially England's second string bowling in their home conditions. @Arrow011 Bresnan obviously means it is the best for batting, when he refers to it as a 'indoor school' scenario gives you a good idea what he means. I personally think England will have welcomed getting time in the middle getting used to conditions, getting as many runs as they can simply because facing better quality spin is hardly the difference at this time, they will have done all their technique related spin work well before they left for India, this will have been ideal for the batsmen.

  • Sharon on November 9, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    @chokkasokka + @y.deva if you think Lords and Oval are "fast seaming track" "damp grazing field" then you clearly show your lack of knowledge. The hot sunshine and flat track of these two fine venue was not the reason India lost there. No there must be other reason.... reason? India completely outclassed even on flat track in hot sunshine. At Oval Swann clean India up 9/209 - so how can it be a "damp drazing field" what nonsense. You can hope Ashwin will spare blush but hope is all you have.

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