Day to England, spoils to Mishra

Avinash N Posted: Nov 09, 2012 at 0017 hrs
Ahmedabad At 408 for three with two batsmen making half-centuries, Alastair Cook missing out on a century by just three runs and Kevin Pietersen, their best batsman, scoring one, England seemed to have had a good day at work.

But the ground reality of England batting on Day One of the first-class match against Haryana was a bit different. The wicket at the Sardar Patel Stadium B ground wasn\'t laid out to assist spin, so preparations for the first Test weren\'t ideal once again for England. But Amit Mishra, the leg-spinner with 13 Tests to his name, did manage to trouble two of their key batsmen.

And while the going was largely easy for the England batsman, what will worry them was the passage of play that followed when Mishra, unarguably the best spinner England have faced in the three practice matches,introduced himself into the attack in the 52nd over .

Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott, the former set to make his debut at the top of the order and the latter an experienced and dogged middle-order mainstay, were trapped leg-before-wicket by Mishra.

Both failed to read the spin, while Trott\'s ploy of using the sweep shot a stroke visiting teams have fallen back upon against the turning ball resulted in his downfall. England will ponder over what the damage would have been if Mishra had the benefit of an experienced spinner bowling in tandem with him.

Mishra\'s figures at the end of the day read 11-1-50-2, as Ian Bell used his feet effectively against the Haryana captain and remained unbeaten on 57.

But Mishra\'s contribution goes beyond figures as he has planted seeds of doubt in both well-set batsmen. Others watching from the dressing room would have experienced a temporary, if not extended loss of confidence.

The wicket for the first Test starting at the main Motera stadium, a stone\'s throw from the B ground, will be kinder to the spinners and in Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh, India have slow bowlers of quality who will plan to expose England\'s fallibility against the turning ball.

Pietersen\'s century couldn\'t have come at a better time for England as it indicated that the mercurial batsman not only was in form but also was in the right frame of mind for battles ahead.

timely century

But his 110 off 83 balls was not a chance-less innings. Pietersen was dropped twice, on 42 and 85, off the bowling of a rookie off break bowler Jayant Yadav. Captain Cook fell just after lunch to Yadav, while Trott was dismissed immediately after the tea break. But Pietersen did counter Mishra well and so did Bell.

"Mishra is the best spinner we have faced so far on this tour. He has played Tests for India so it was good that KP and I got runs against him and these runs will give us confidence," Bell said.

But the manner of the dismissals of Compton and Trott was a different story.

Brief scores: England 408/3 in 90 overs (K Pietersen 110, A Cook 97, N Compton 74, A Mishra 2/50)