Ups and downs as first Test looms

Posted in England in India 2012-13

Samit Patel

Samit Patel has impressed during England's first two warm-up matches in India

No-one could accuse England of failing to set aside sufficient preparation time ahead of their four-Test series with India, which begins in Ahmedabad on November 15.

Alastair Cook’s men have already been in Mumbai for more than a week and, at the time of writing, are two-thirds of the way through the second of three first-class warm-up fixtures.

As with any tour, there have already been ups and downs as the build-up to the opening Test intensifies.

The thigh strain that has sidelined Steven Finn represents the most obvious negative, particularly given the Middlesex paceman’s fine performances on the sub-continent in recent times, and England were handed a further injury worry today when Stuart Broad was sent for a scan on a heel problem.

Nick Compton and Ian Bell, meanwhile, have yet to make an impression, although only the most irrational critic would rush to judgement on the basis of two innings for each batsman.

Encouragingly, many of England’s other players appear to have quickly settled into their stride on Indian soil.

Samit Patel has undoubtedly emerged as the standout performer thus far. After striking 104 against India A, he added a further 60 in the first innings against Mumbai A to strengthen his claim for the number six berth.

However, Patel’s presence in England’s first-Test line-up is by no means certain, with Jonny Bairstow having responded with a century of his own yesterday and Eoin Morgan also finding form with 76.

With captain Cook another man to reach three figures in the opening tour match at the Brabourne Stadium, there has been plenty to please batting coach Graham Gooch.

England’s bowlers have not enjoyed quite as much success, illustrated by today’s 163-run stand between Cheteshwar Pujara and Hiken Shah for Mumbai A.

However, with the exception of Finn, every prospective member of the attack has been able to get numerous overs under their belt, a valuable commodity in conditions that have traditionally posed challenging for England.

With a final warm-up game against Haryana still to come prior to the start of the Test rubber next Thursday, Cook and Co should be suitably equipped for the test that awaits them.

In the meantime, there is still adequate time for others to follow the lead of Patel, Bairstow and their captain, by demonstrating their readiness to impress.