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 at the Sardar Patel Stadium.
More batting to come
“We’ve got two world-class batsmen at the crease, Belly (Ian Bell) still to come, myself and Matty P (Matt Prior) - a lot of batting,” 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 set their stall out and bat well. We’ve put in the hard yards; we know what we can do ... we’re good players of spin. “Tomorrow (Saturday), we hope we can show what we’re made out of.” Patel acknowledges it will not be easy, but then that is not the way England want it.
Not an easy task
“We’re going to have to play some good cricket,” he said. “It’s hard work - but that’s Test cricket. We have to front up - we can’t go anywhere. We’ve got to stand up and be counted. It’s no place for hiding.” 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.
“Sometimes you have to give credit to the (opposition) batsmen,” Patel added. “Sehwag played outstandingly well yesterday (Thursday); Pujara carried on today, and Yuvraj (Singh) played as he does. “They’re good players of spin. As the Indians showed, if you bat a long time, you can wear teams down.
That’s what they did. “It’s something we expected. You lose the toss, and field for two days... we knew what was coming, what was going to happen and we’re prepared. “That’s cricket, but we’ve got some quality batsmen still in the shed to come in, guys that can go out and score big hundreds,” he added.
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