Patience remains the key to England's strategy

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The Independent Online

Mark Ramprakash, the England and Surrey batsman, believes that patience will be a key factor to his team being able to combat India's spinners this winter.

"The subtleties of spin are predominant here and I think we all agree that spin is not a main weapon back home," said Ramprakash. "You must have a gameplan against it. The batters last winter [in Sri Lanka and Pakistan] had gameplans, batted for long periods of time and extremely well.

"Scoring can take time and patience and there may be sessions where scoring goes fairly slowly. I don't think you can come here and smash 350 in a day, I think it will take a lot of time and effort over five days."

Ramprakash made a sound start to the six-week tour with an unbeaten half-century in Bombay earlier this week, where he looked in fine touch and dealt with the turning ball comfortably. But, with the tourists' coach Duncan Fletcher admitting he will need to sacrifice a batsman for the Test matches in order to accommodate the recent call-up of Andrew Flintoff and his fellow all-rounder Craig White, the Surrey batsman is not guaranteed a place.

Nasser Hussain and Marcus Trescothick, captain and vice-captain respectively, and Graham Thorpe seem certainties in the equation, so competition is fierce to fill the middle-order places on offer.

Both Ramprakash and Michael Vaughan scored centuries in their last Test appearances – Ramprakash's a majestic 133 against Australia at The Oval – and Mark Butcher struck that sensational unbeaten 173 to seal victory at Headingley in August.

England have one more game, against India A, after the match here with a Board President's XI which started this morning, to assess the situation before the first Test on 3 December.

The President's XI includes six players who have represented India, including Wasim Jaffer who made 99 in Bombay in the opening match, while Rohan Gavaskar, son of the legendary Sunil, is also in the side.

Graham Dilley, England's assistant coach, who was laid low by the effects of the sun in Bombay, arrived here yesterday in good health.

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