Jonny Bairstow magnificently answered a question that wasn't being asked but Joe Root and Nick Compton failed to give any clues to a far more pressing poser. Bairstow scored a fluent 118 from 177 balls with 14 fours – his first century in an England shirt – to underline his promise. But he is unlikely to begin the First Test against India on 15 November in Ahmedabad.
With Kevin Pietersen "reintegrated" and Samit Patel's century in the first warm-up game last week together with his unbeaten 59 yesterday all but guaranteeing him the No 6 spot in the batting line-up, there would seem to be no room barring injury for either Bairstow or Eoin Morgan. The latter made 76 yesterday and shared a stand of 156 with Bairstow to draw England out of the 66 for 4 hole that they had dug for themselves.
That hole came in part because of a double failure by the two young would-be openers who are touted as challengers to partner Alastair Cook in Ahmedabad after the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Compton followed his duck against India A on Tuesday with just a single, while Root in his first knock on this tour did better, lasting until the final ball before lunch at the Dr DY Patil Sports Stadium in Mumbai, but contributing only 28.
Both are likely to have another chance in the second innings of this match and there is one more warm-up game to come next week before decisions have to be made. Unless Andy Flower has a rethink and promotes Jonathan Trott to opener, which is unlikely, the question of who to pick remains unanswered.
England rested some key players, with Alastair Cook leaving the captaincy to Stuart Broad, Bairstow taking the gloves from Matt Prior, Monty Panesar giving Graeme Swann a rest, and Graham Onions coming in for the injured Steven Finn. Surrey's Stuart Meaker has been drafted into England's squad as cover for Finn, who picked up a thigh injury in England's first game and must be a doubt for the final warm-up match next week, and indeed the First Test. Scans did not reveal signs of any serious injury for Finn, and Meaker will return to the England Performance Programme once he is fit. Finn's absence leaves Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan battling to be the final seamer with James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
But while Bairstow and Morgan were proving that all is well with England's back-up middle order, they came to the crease with England tottering on 66 for 4. Compton had to dive in to complete the scampered single which got Root under way. His reward, however, was a good ball from Kshemal Waingankar which beat his forward-defensive shot to knock out off-stump.
Jonathan Trott shared a half-century stand with Root before a waft at a wide one from Javed Khan found an edge and he fell for 28.
Ian Bell, also caught by wicketkeeper Sufiyan Shaikh when Waingankar found his edge with some movement off the pitch, like Compton made his second single-figure score, adding four here to his five against India A.
Root came through the initial threat of Waingankar, a seamer who took five wickets against England four years ago when they were bowled out for just 98 in a crushing limited-overs defeat. The Yorkshireman waited more than an hour for a boundary – a clip off his legs off Shardul Thakur. But it was to be his only four, before he was caught at short leg off the part-time bowling of the home captain, Suryakumar Yadav, on the stroke of lunch.
But Bairstow and Morgan were up to the rebuilding task and batted unbeaten from lunch until tea in a stand featuring just one minor lapse, when the keeper's mistimed push off the back foot did not stick in Waingankar's fingers on 56. Morgan clubbed Yadav high over long on for an early six in an 81-ball 50.
Thakur eventually had Morgan lbw with a yorker. But Patel (59 not out) continued his fine form with another 50, in only 60 balls, to help Bairstow past his hundred, which ended just before the close when he edged Javed low to first slip.
Bairstow was realistic at stumps of his chances of making the First Test. "You want to be one of the 11 guys who pulls on the shirt," he said. "But if the balance of side means you miss out, then so be it. You keep working hard, and if you're not selected spend the Test in the nets.
"Samit is obviously in good form. Morgy is as well, so I wouldn't like to be the people above. But that's their job, and we can't do anything about it. I wouldn't say [I'd feel] hard done by, because there's massive competition in that middle order, but only 11 can play.
"I can only score as many runs as I can to put my case forward."
England XI won toss
J E Root c Patil b Yadav 28/0/1/65
N R D Compton b Waingankar 1/0/0/10
I J L Trott c S M Shaikh b Khan 28/0/4/47
I R Bell c S M Shaikh b Waingankar 4/0/0/11
E J G Morgan lbw b Thakur 76/1/8/128
†J M Bairstow c Dhawan b Khan 118/0/14/177
S R Patel not out 59/0/7/68
*S C J Broad not out 6/0/1/9
Extras (b4, lb3, w2, nb9) 18
Total (for 6, 86 overs) 338
Fall 1-5 2-55 3-64 4-66 5-222 6-329
Still to bat J M Anderson, G Onions, M S Panesar.
Bowling Waingankar 22-6-68-2; Thakur 16-2-51-1; Khan 17-1-75-2; Dhawan 12-2-49-0; Yadav 6-1-30-1; S S Shaikh 3-0-14-0; Patil 5-0-28-0; Thakkar 5-0-16-0.
Mumbai A *S A Yadav, C A Pujara, S Dhawan, H N Shah, B J Thakkar, †S M Shaikh, N A Patil, K Waingankar, J J Khan, S N Thakur, S S Shaikh.
Umpires R M Deshpande and N H Phadnis (Ind).
Match referee S Sharath (Ind).
- More about:
- Kevin Pietersen