England would have been acutely aware of that fact heading into the second Test against India in Visakhapatnam this morning, aiming to build on their impressive draw in the opening game in Rajkot.
England came within four wickets of defeating the hosts on the final day, having outplayed them in all departments.
Only defiance from India captain Virat Kholi, in particular, saved the home team, whom many had tipped to secure a 5-0 whitewash.
The pessimists among us – or should that be realists? – could be forgiven for thinking that England’s best chance has come and gone.
To borrow the old footballing cliche, you need to take your chances when you find yourself on top; otherwise, your opponents might just sneak down the other end of the pitch and bag a goal.
At the same time, it would be harsh in the extreme to say that England missed a chance to beat India or that, with the benefit of hindsight, they might have declared slightly earlier on the final day to give themselves more time to dismiss them.
Few people expected Alastair Cook’s men to even come close to winning a Test on the tour, so they deserved full credit for their efforts against the world’s No 1-ranked side.
Only time will tell whether England’s best chance of victory indeed came and went at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, or whether it was the springboard for greater success.
On the spinning pitches of the sub-continent, the toss is always key, and England were able to apply pressure in Rajkot after batting first and scoring big runs, with first innings totals particularly important.
What England did show is that they are capable of competing and possibly something more.
They remain underdogs – how could they not be after recently losing a Test to ‘Bangla-bloody-desh’, as Fred Trueman used to call them – and it would be premature to get carried away.
Better to focus instead on the bigger picture, which betokens encouraging signs for England moving forward.
Regardless of whether they go on to enjoy a successful series, it seems that they have found an opening batsman with more than 15 years of international cricket ahead of him in the form of 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed.
As with every young player, Hameed will have his ups and downs, but the ups are more likely to be in evidence if his debut in Rajkot was any indication.
Hameed began his Test career with scores of 31 and 82 and just looked the part, as did Cook and Joe Root when they came on the scene.
Hameed showed good technique, sound judgement of what to play and what to leave, and nifty footwork too.
It was a remarkably composed display from the Bolton-born Red Rose batsman.
Another big plus was Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
As with Hameed at Lancashire, Rashid burst on the scene as a teenage star, capturing six wickets on debut against Warwickshire at Scarborough.
In the intervening decade, he has gone on to take more than 450 first-class wickets and score more than 6,000 first-class runs, yet the Rajkot Test was only his sixth. He captured seven wickets in the match in his best performance for England to date.
Afterwards, Rashid paid tribute to Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan off-spinner, who is acting as a temporary spin consultant to the England side.
Whatever Saqlain has said or done clearly worked in the first Test, and the Yorkshireman admitted that he had received sage advice relating to his approach and field placings.
At 28, Bradford-born Rashid should be approaching his peak, and this has for him the air of a pivotal tour.
Last year, Rashid’s Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow found himself in a not dissimilar position when England toured South Africa, where his century in the Cape Town Test helped him to cement his place and proved the catalyst for what has been for him a golden year at international level.
It must now be hoped that Rashid also blossoms into a top-class Test player.