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Indian hero Pujara writes off England batsmen

Saturday, 17 November 2012 - 8:47am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Double-centurion gives England little chance of survival, but Patel puts faith in positive attitude.

India have already made up their mind about England's "fragile" batting line-up and Samit Patel acknowledged the team would have to "stand up and be counted" after it took little more than an hour for fears to grow of another tour of torment against spin. The 70-minute session that England batted at the end of the second day was their first exposure to quality spin bowling since arriving in India. Duncan Fletcher's tactic of denying them practice against high-quality spin bowlers in the warm-up matches meant England had to attune to the challenge in the high-pressure environment of a Test match already running away from them.

The 'Welcome to India' signs were up straight away as Ravi Ashwin opened the bowling with four men around the bat and spinners were operating from either end within 10 overs of the start of the innings. "It is going to be a challenging task for them [to survive] because the way they were batting it looked like they were a fragile batting line-up for sure," was the verdict of Cheteshwar Pujara, who had just batted on the same pitch for 71/2 hours with few moments of panic. "I think there is nothing wrong with the conditions. The ball is turning and we have got three English wickets and I think it is just because we like the conditions better than them."

No surprise there. But England are defiant. Patel is a chirpy character full of self-confidence and he was giving little ground to India. "We have got two world-class batsmen at the crease, Ian Bell still to come, myself and Matt Prior. We have a lot of batting. There is no question about how long we can bat. We have got the same potential in batting as India. We have got to keep believing that."

The England psychologist, Mark Bawden, returned to the UK just before the start of the Test but his sessions with the players perhaps included a spot of hypnosis when it came to answering questions about facing spin. To be fair, Patel, as a junior player, could only touch on positives. "We have put in the hard yards and know what we can do. We can show what we are made of," he said. "It is nothing unexpected: lose the toss go and field for two days. We knew what was going to happen."

England have had six months to chew over their problems against spin. Alastair Cook, the captain, wanted his team to pick up where they left off in Colombo, a Test they won thanks to Kevin Pietersen. He was the only batsman to show real positive intent, fashioning runs by using his feet.

Nick Compton was cautious in facing a challenge his grandfather never had to counter (Denis did not play a Test in the subcontinent) while Jonathan Trott fell prodding hard defensively against the turning ball. Patel is one of the team's better players of spin, which is why he is in the XI ahead of two specialist batsmen, Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow, and has worked out his own method even if this is only his second Test.

"I don't think you can be defensive playing out here," he said. "You need to let the bowler know you are still around and that it is not just about survival. Take the example of Kev. First ball he ran down the wicket and hit a single to mid-on. We knew how tough it was going to be but we have to stand up and be counted. This is why we do all the fitness work and why we do it all together."

 




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