Although the match petered out to a draw, Samit Patel was the clearest winner in England's stalemate against India A that finished here in Mumbai yesterday.
In an opening tour match which meandered its way to the close, Patel's maiden hundred for his country put him at the front of the frame for a Test return as a likely No 6 batsman in Ahmedabad this month. When India A came out to bat for their second innings Patel bowled 16 overs to Graeme Swann's two, suggesting he will play as England's second spinner. But Patel's two wickets from 36 overs in the match would have made a less compelling case for the selectors.
Others could lay claim to a favourable first experience on tour, Alastair Cook beginning his tenure as permanent Test captain with a typically painstaking century and Kevin Pietersen coming through his return to England colours with his reputation unscathed following his well-chronicled summer of discontent.
For him, Wednesday's half-hour spar with old adversary Yuvraj Singh brought 23 frenetic runs before he fell caught and bowled to the part-time slow left-armer, who was to finish with 5 for 94 in England's 426 all out.
Pietersen, Cook (119) and Patel (104) can therefore press on with confidence intact or enhanced from a match after which, conversely, the prospective Test opener Nick Compton's third-ball duck on debut and Steven Finn's thigh injury will be England's biggest concerns.
Once it became clear victory would not be possible inside three days, priorities were exclusively to ensure best preparation for the four-Test series ahead – and England duly settled for the moral success of a first-innings lead of 57, before their hosts closed out the contest on 122 for 4 second time round.
England have two more opportunities to fine-tune performance and well-being before the first Test on 15 November. Sadly, however, Finn is highly unlikely to take part in at least the first of those fixtures – a three-day match starting against Mumbai A tomorrow – as he undergoes a "rehabilitation programme", after pulling up injured after just four overs.
Yuvraj added the wickets of Matt Prior (51), Patel and finally James Anderson yesterday. Much was made of the home selectors' decision to pick no specialist spinner for this match, thus depriving England of the chance to attune themselves to the challenge which will await them courtesy of Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in the Tests.
But Yuvraj, better known as a batsman, nonetheless took the bowling honours in an England innings underpinned by a stand of 169 between Cook and Patel. That fifth-wicket partnership finally ended when the captain succumbed at last, caught behind pushing forward at Ashok Dinda. Cook batted for almost six-and-a-half hours, faced 269 balls and hit 14 fours.
There were the same number of boundaries in Patel's century, from 161 deliveries, a career milestone acknowledged by an understated raise of the bat in the direction of his team-mates. Patel was by then joined by a characteristically fluent Prior, who produced a series of trademark cuts on his way to a run-a-ball half-century before edging an attempted drive at Yuvraj to Suresh Raina at slip. Patel fell in the same over, nowhere near the pitch and simply chipping a drive to cover.
Swann was yorked by R Vinay Kumar before lunch. But Tim Bresnan and Anderson kept India A waiting afterwards, in a stand of 37 until the latter poked a sweep at Yuvraj straight to short leg and the innings closed with Finn unavailable to bat.
Anderson's reward was to get the ball back in his hands, and he soon had the opener Abhinav Mukund mishitting a catch straight to mid-off.
He needed a second spell to get rid of Murali Vijay, caught at a wide slip straight after tea to end a stand of 65 with the No 3 Ajinkya Rahane (54). Yuvraj joined Rahane to give the final throes of the contest a brief spark until he slapped a catch to mid-on off Bresnan, who would have had two wickets in three balls had Anderson clung on to a tough chance at gully to see Raina off for nought.England declined any offer of more bowling.
Winners and losers from Tour match
Samit Patel With 104 runs in his only innings, Patel will consider this match a success. However, his spin in the first innings was easily blunted.
Kevin Pietersen England returnee managed not to fall out with any team-mates...
Nick Compton Wannabe opener had one knock, faced three balls and made no runs.
Steve Finn Bowler picked up an injury and is now out of the second warm-up game.
Tour match, Brabourne Stadium (day three of three): India A drew with England. India A won toss
India A: First Innings 369
England: First Innings (overnight 286-4; Trott 56)
*A N Cook c Saha b Dinda 119/0/14/269/379
S R Patel c Vijay b Singh 104/0/14/173/284
†M J Prior c Raina b Singh 51/0/9/52/62
T T Bresnan not out 33/1/4/61/67
G P Swann b Kumar 6/0/1/13/30
J M Anderson c Tiwary b Singh 19/0/3/25/32
S T Finn absent
Extras (b1 lb5 w2 nb2) 10
Total (119.5 overs) 426
Fall 1-2, 2-97, 3-125, 4-133, 5-302, 6-367, 7-368, 8-395, 9-426.
Bowling I K Pathan 19-4-61-0, A Dinda 23-2-86-2, Yuvraj Singh 26.5-1-94-5, R Vinay Kumar 17-1-48-1, P Awana 12-1-60-0, M K Tiwary 4-0-23-0, S K Raina 16-2-43-1, M K Vijay 2-0-5-0.
India A: Second Innings
A Mukund c Bell b Anderson 3/0/0/13/10
M K Vijay c Swann b Anderson 32/1/4/60/87
A M Rahane c Anderson b Patel 54/0/6/98/137
Yuvraj Singh c Bell b Bresnan 14/0/1/27/31
*S K Raina not out 19/0/4/35/35
M K Tiwary not out 2/0/0/7/5
Total (for 4, 40 overs) 124
Fall 1-4, 2-69, 3-98, 4-118.
Did not bat †W P Saha, I K Pathan, R Vinay Kumar, P Awana, A Dinda.
Bowling J M Anderson 7-1-20-2, T T Bresnan 10-1-37-1, S R Patel 16-1-40-1, G P Swann 5-0-19-0, K P Pietersen 2-0-8-0.
Umpires S Asnani and S K Tarapore.
Smith joins old enemy KP at Surrey
Kevin Pietersen will be pleased... The South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith – not exactly Pietersen's best mate – has signed a three-year contract with Surrey and will captain the English county.
Smith, 31, who is on tour in Australia with the world's top-ranked team, has captained his country in 94 Tests.
"As well as being one of the best captains in the modern game, he is a phenomenal opening batsman and will lead by example from the top of the innings," the Surrey team director, Chris Adams, said.
Smith replaces Rory Hamilton-Brown, who has joined Sussex after he was released from his contract. Pietersen is contracted to Surrey but is unlikely to play a huge amount next season because of his England commitments.