Haryana v England XI, Ahmedabad, 3rd day November 10, 2012

England learn little on frustrating day


England XI 521 and 118 for 0 (Trott 61*, Compton 54*) lead Haryana 334 (Dewan 143, Bresnan 3-67, Meaker 3-72) by 305 runs

Like studying for a maths exam by brushing up on the names of the Tudor monarchs, England will have gained little benefit from the third day of their game against Haryana. On a pitch that bears no comparison to that on which the Test will be played and against opponents with little in common with those in their national team, England were obliged to spend four sessions in the field under a hot sun. They could be forgiven for having moments when they wished this was a three day match rather than four.

The day was not completely wasted. England's bowlers, the second string though they are, will have all benefited from a thorough work-out, while Rahul Dewan enjoyed a performance he will never forget by becoming just the second Haryana batsman to carry his bat in first-class cricket. His unbeaten 143 helped Haryana to a total of 334 - their highest total this year - and ensured that his side avoided a rout. Only two other men passed 17.

Later, with England 188-ahead but eschewing the chance of enforcing the follow-on, Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton opened the batting and, utterly untroubled, posted an unbroken 118-run partnership to take their lead to 305 with a day remaining. But, offered only a diet of unthreatening seam bowling, they will have learned little from the experience. They faced just two overs of spin.

The conditions on offer in this match will bear little relation with those in the Test. While this game is being played on an even-paced pitch offering nothing to bowlers, the pitch in the main stadium - this game is being played on the 'B' ground - has been re-laid as recently as September. The clay content in the surface has been changed - from pond clay to farm clay - and reduced - more sand has been added - with a view to it breaking up more quickly. While no-one can predict with any certainty how a new pitch will play - there has been no game of any note on it as yet - it appears that batting could become far more difficult as the match progresses. Winning the toss and batting first would appear to offer a disproportionate advantage.

It remains to be seen if any of England's bowlers in this game make it into the team for the first Test. While neither Steven Finn or Stuart Broad bowled in practise, they were both able to train as planned. The England camp is increasingly confident that Finn will be fit for the Test, while they remain insistent that Graeme Swann will have returned to India in good time and that Broad, too, will have recovered. Matt Prior, having recovered from his stomach upset, was also able to play a full part on day three.

Stuart Meaker was the pick of the England bowlers on the third day, but he may have to pay his dues for a little while longer. It is not in the nature of this England set-up to fast-track any player into the side. But Meaker, called into the squad only a week ago and short of bowling since the end of the English domestic season, has been the only bowler on either side to generate anything at all out of this benign surface. Amit Mishra was caught behind off one that bounced a little more expected, Jayand Yadav was beaten for pace and Chanderpal Sani's enterprising innings - he helped add 60 for the ninth wicket - was ended when the batsman played across a straight one.

"I certainly haven't done myself any harm by taking a few wickets," Meaker said, while accepting that his chances of forcing his way into the Test team were slim. "Looking at how Steven Finn is going, he's getting closer and closer to being ready. But I look at it more long term: it's a great chance for me to show the new Test captain I can perform in these conditions and that will bode well for a future Test call."

Tim Bresnan, too, could feel satisfied with his performance. He soon dismissed Sandeep Singh, who edged a tentative prod, and will have pushed himself into contention for the Test side.

Graham Onions was not at his best. Both short of bowling and increasingly weary, he struggled with his line and was outbowled by both his seam bowling colleagues. He enjoyed little luck, though, and was most unfortunate to see Compton put down a straightforward chance at gully offered by Amit Vashisht.

England's catching - or, more accurately, their lack of catching - remains a concern. Three times the ball flew between Prior and Alastair Cook, at first slip, with Cook far from convincing in the cordon. Trott, who was the unfortunate bowler on one occasion, also put down Sanjay Budhwar at first slip, off Kevin Pietersen, the ball before he was caught at second slip. As Pietersen put it afterwards "I should be on a hat-trick."

Still, it was a special day for Dewan. Once deemed a bright enough prospect to win the Indian under 22 player of the year award (for the 2007-08 season), he has a first-class score of 254 not out to his name but, in the T20 age, has struggled to progress. While not blessed with the widest range of strokes, he was disciplined and, generally waiting on the back foot, proved particularly effective at steering anything short through point. Typically he brought up his century - the sixth of his first-class career - with a cut to the boundary off Samit Patel. He was dropped on day two when he had 14 and, on 87, might have been caught by Cook off Trott. Instead Cook failed to react and the ball sped to the boundary. Jitender Singh, who made 107 out of a total of 270 against Karnataka in 1998-99, is the only previous Haryana player to carry his bat in a first-class game.

"This attack is a notch higher than first-class attacks," he said afterwards. "All the bowlers bowled well. They bowled in the right areas and didn't give many loose balls. They were all on the money I would say. But there was nothing for them in the wicket, so it wasn't very tough to handle them."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 11, 2012, 18:33 GMT

    Dear ESPN - Please could you publish the below comment. If an Indian fan is allowed to bring up the past then surely an England fan should have the right to put his take on that situation. It's not like there's nothing untrue in what I write here. If you won't publish my below comms then please in future could you not publish the originals comms @DNAX1 - As Bell was obviously walking off for tea , it was a very cheap ploy by certain Indian players. Bell may have been naive but that effort from the Indian fielders reeked of desperation. Most players thought it was tea otherwise why wasn't Dhoni anywhere near behind the stumps.?Bell/Flower should have accepted the decision and not worried about the hostility the Indian players would have got for the rest of the tour. I personally think they (Flower/Strauss) did it for all the right reasons. I'd certainly not want to pick up a wicket that way

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    All talk of pitches prepared that are going to break up is rubbish. They will probabl be the normal boring flat pieces of tosh that they prepare in India. Of course they will wear towards the end of the five days though. In saying that, the sub continent has a history of producing the most boring games of Test cricket ever because of their boring surfaces.

  • Matthew on November 11, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    @Greatest Game. your argument goes round and round in a circle mate. What is the difference between this Haryana side and Somerset (who i have seen play many times and are an excellent team by the way)? Are they not also "minnows that look good in a meaningless game"?

  • Mark on November 11, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    @JG, it's all smoke and mirrors on both sides right now. Neither is showing its full hand. India are building up the pressure, in part to hide their own very substantial problems. They desperately need to come out fast because they have made it a matter of honour that they win 4-0; anything else is a failure for them. However, they know that they have a shadow hanging over various of the side and that anything other than a big win will end some careers. Unlike Pakistan, who could back up their spin attack with quality pace, India have only one weapon and if that doesn't work, there is no Plan B. It would be a double-edged sword though because pitches made to break up on the last two days could catch them too (in 2006 they collapsed on the last day of the series to a rather ordinary county spinner) and England's bowlers can use a deteriorating pitch too. If the only plan is to win the toss, score big and then let the pitch break up, it has to work.

  • Harmon on November 11, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    @ Jezinho: It was sporting indeed of Andy Flower the Eng coach to prevent Monty Panesar the fringe English spinner from bowling to Sachin even in the nets but if BCCI does something in the interest of its team then it becomes unsporting. Where were you when Andy Flower disallowed Panesar?

  • John on November 11, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    @sonicattack on (November 10 2012, 21:32 PM GMT) My main point is that all you can do is show a bit of form in the warm up games but even if not it's not the end of the world. SA were lame vs Somerset but when the business end started they kicked on PanGlupek on (November 10 2012, 22:28 PM GMT) Indeed

  • John on November 11, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    @Greatest_Game on (November 10 2012, 23:59 PM GMT) I was about to go along with you on your humour but then read the 2nd part of your post and realised you were actually for real. I was merely pointing out that Somerset are one of the better county sides which you would know if you followed our game. Not sure why I need to explain this. JMCs response is probably more suited

  • John on November 11, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    @Meety on (November 10 2012, 21:11 PM GMT) We'll see what happens. It seems they have a plan and only time will tell if it backfires or not. In UAE we did well in the warm ups (although it was mainly the bowlers) and failed miserably in the tests. Obviously I'd prefer our batsmen to be doing ok than failing but I'm not reading too much into it. I also think the Indian players are trying to play mind games. I think one of them said we were struggling despite scoring 400 in a day's play.

  • Jeremy on November 11, 2012, 6:33 GMT

    Very unsporting of BCCI to ensure that the England batsmen get minimal preparation against spin in this last warm up game. 50 overs had been played before Yadav came on in the first innings, which is a joke. When teams tour England, counties put up their strongest sides recognising that decent tour matches are something of a rarity for the beleaguered counties. Heck, we even let touring players get some games in by playing FOR counties. It just shows how much the BBCI recognises that on home turf, the Indian bowling attack is a one trick pony.

  • James on November 11, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    @klapka Well I'll hold my hand up and admit I didn't know that, but what kind of bowler prefers not to bowl, maybe hes in the wrong job and should become an accountant or something.

    @DNAX1 There is an important difference between preparing the pitches to suit yourself and messing around with the warm ups. I agree that nothing should be given in the tests but the point of the warm up matches is to prepare the team for the tests and I really don't like the prospect of the fielded team not playing at its best or changing tactics just to prevent the touring team getting a decent practice, since practice is the whole point of the match. Also its been pointed out before but India did not face a single green top in their tour of England, all the grounds played pretty much how they normally do and looked pretty good for batting (when England were batting anyway).

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