England left to play for draw as India’s spin kings wreak havoc

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England face a long haul to salvage a stalemate in the first Test, but remain confident they have the ability to do so.

The tourists replied badly to India’s 521-8 declared, losing three wickets in as many overs to the home spinners to close day two on a vulnerable 41-3.

They may therefore need to bat for the vast majority of three days – eking all they can out of 17 wickets, unless they can take the follow-on out of the equation – to prevent India going 1-0 up with three to play.

Samit Patel will be one of those called upon to prove England’s mettle – and after also bowling 31 overs on a pitch offering slow turn and low bounce, he sees no reason at all why the tourists cannot return in kind plenty of the runs scored by Cheteshwar Pujara (206no), fellow centurion Virender Sehwag et al at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

“We’ve got two world-class batsmen at the crease, Belly (Ian Bell) still to come, myself and Matty P (Matt Prior) – a lot of batting,” said Patel.

“There’s no question about how long we can bat. We’ve got the same potential of batting as India have – and we’ve got to keep believing that.”

He expects occupation to become easier against Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha once the ball in their hands takes some wear and tear.

“The ball’s harder, and I think it spins more when the ball’s harder,” he said. “The telling time will be when the ball gets soft; then we can get in.

“You have to earn the right to get in first, and I think Cookie (Alastair Cook) and Kev (Kevin Pietersen) in the morning have got to set their stall out and bat well.

“We’ve put in the hard yards; we know what we can do... we’re good players of spin.

“Tomorrow (Saturday), we hope we can show what we’re made of out of.”

Patel acknowledges it will not be easy, but then that is not the way England want it.

“We’re going to have to play some good cricket,” he said. “It’s hard work – but that’s Test cricket.

“We have to front up – we can’t go anywhere.

“We’ve got to stand up and be counted. It’s no place for hiding.”

England have endured a chastening two days at the start of a tour they knew from the outset would be tough, and their initial experience concluded with cricket’s classic double-punch – late wickets lost by a team tired physically and mentally after long exertions in the field.

“Sometimes you have to give credit to the (opposition) batsmen,” added Patel.

“Sehwag played outstandingly well yesterday; Pujara carried on today, and Yuvraj (Singh) played as he does. They’re good players of spin.

“As the Indians showed, if you bat a long time, you can wear teams down. That’s what they did.

“It’s something we expected. You lose the toss, and field for two days... we knew what was coming, what was going to happen – and we’re prepared.

“That’s cricket, but we’ve got some quality batsmen still in the shed to come in, guys that can go out and score big hundreds.”

Patel for one will not rely on passive resistance when his turn comes to bat, saying: “You’ve got to survive the tough periods, and get teams where you want them.

“You can do that by hitting boundaries, or ones – it doesn’t matter.

“I don’t think you can be defensive playing out here. You need to let the bowler know that you’re still there, not just surviving.

“If you take the example of Kev tonight, first ball he went down the wicket and hit one to mid-on and ran.”

Pujara was prepared to defend and be patient for long periods, and that approach paid off too.

“I never like to get out,” said the India number three. “There’s always a price on my wicket – even when I’ve scored a double-hundred I never want to give it away.”

Unsurprisingly, he does not appear to rate England’s chances of survival as highly as Patel.

“There’s nothing wrong with the wicket,” he said. “The ball is turning. We’ve got three England wickets... I think we’ve utilised the conditions better than them.

“It’s going to be a challenging task for them, because the way they were batting it looked like they were a fragile line-up for sure.

“The kind of momentum we’ve got in these 18 overs, I think we can get them all out by tomorrow evening (Saturday) – and obviously, we’d like to finish the match before five days if possible.”

Former Yorkshire and England batsman Geoffrey Boycott claims “big question marks” remain over England’s ability to play spin after Compton, Anderson and Trott fell late on day two in Ahmedabad.

“We haven’t really proved in our mind or in our technique that we can play spin,” said Boycott.

“You can practise as much as you want, at as many bowlers as you want, in the nets, but when you’re out in the middle in a Test match there are four guys round the bat and you’re on nought – it’s a totally different game.

“Part of it’s in the head. Everything looks alright and suddenly we’re three down.

“We’ve had 18 overs of England batting and we’re talking about the follow-on, which tells us everything.

“It’s not looking good.”