England labour for wickets against Haryana

 

England encountered more reminders of the perils of an India tour as they laboured for their wickets against Haryana.

En route on day two of four, they lost the services of Matt Prior and were indebted to their hosts at the Board of Control for Cricket in India for allowing Jonny Bairstow to deputise when England's first-choice wicketkeeper succumbed to a stomach upset.

If Prior's misfortune was one symptom of the sub-continent's occupational hazards, the flattest of batting surfaces at the Sardar Patel Stadium B Ground was another with which the tourists had to contend.

So it was that only the brawn, and brain, of Tim Bresnan gave them a foothold in their efforts to bowl out their hosts, and despite the Yorkshireman's two wickets, opener Rahul Dewan (77no) helped Haryana to a largely untroubled 172 for four in reply to England's 521 all out.

A temporary stand-off preceded Prior's relief, after he had left the pitch once in discomfort shortly in the early afternoon but been forced to soldier on when the umpires and match referee refused to endorse his substitution behind the stumps by a player not already involved in the match.

By the letter of the law, it was a contravention of first-class regulations.

But at England's behest, and in the absence of a suitable replacement among those who started the match, the BCCI decided common sense should prevail.

Samit Patel (66) had this morning added England's fifth half-century as runs continued to come easy, before a late clatter of the last five wickets for 14.

That dramatic statistic was of little significance, other than to ensure England's back-up bowling attack at last had their turn to impress.

Instead, they came up against the same snag which had afflicted their opposite numbers - an unresponsive pitch and some decent batting.

After Nitin Saini had been shifted by Bresnan's endeavours to find some life from short of a length, propping a catch to cover, Dewan and Sunny Singh batted serenely in a stand of 97.

The closest England came before tea was a chance given by Dewan on 13 to a diving Prior down the leg-side in Stuart Meaker's first over after replacing Graham Onions.

Alastair Cook kept attacking fields, as he could with such a big total on the board in this final warm-up match before next week's first Test against India.

But Haryana's second-wicket pair appeared just as much in cruise control - without the utter dominance Kevin Pietersen enjoyed - as most of England's batsmen had yesterday.

It was Patel who broke the stand, soon after Singh had passed his 72-ball 50 with his 10th four, Jonathan Trott taking the catch at slip.

Trott snapped up another low chance at second slip soon afterwards when Bresnan found the edge of Abimanyu Khod's bat in backward-defence, and Monty Panesar prised Sachin Rana out lbw.

But Dewan was not for moving, batting through two sessions and still undefeated after 182 balls spread over more than four hours.

In-form Patel earlier completed his third 50 in as many innings on tour, following his century against India A and more runs against Mumbai A last week.

He and Ian Bell began against the second new ball, with 408 for four already on the board after centurion Pietersen and others' efforts.

Bell (62) went for the addition of only five runs, caught at slip after advancing to Sachin Rana, but Patel and Prior then shared a brisk sixth-wicket stand of 69.

Patel hit 10 fours in a 77-ball 50, and Prior's 41 came up in only 36 deliveries.

He was stumped aiming another big hit at off-spinner Jayant Yadav, who also had Bresnan caught in the deep - for the first single-figure score of the innings.

The Yorkshireman set a trend for England's tail, though, and with Patel also caught at long-on off Yadav, the end came quickly and in time for the innings change at lunch as Haryana's spinners shared eight wickets between them.

England's back-up attack therefore had two sessions to show what they could do. But the best news about their bowling stocks came from the adjacent nets rather than the middle, Steven Finn testing his thigh strain off a full run for the first time since suffering his injury 10 days ago.

PA

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