When your team is in a slump, there is nothing like a high-scoring innings to bring confidence back into the ranks. England, who have not fared overly well in previous warm-up games on the subcontinent this autumn, sure found their stride in the first day of their final warm-up before the Test series with India starts next week.
Following uninspiring matches against India A and Mumbai A, England went into bat against Haryana on Thursday and knocked up a confidence-boosting 408-3 before close of play. Not only will the score boost their latest cricket odds ahead of the first Test, but with all six batsmen showing good form at the crease there are great reasons to be optimistic.
Captain Alastair Cook and new opener Nick Compton staged a magnificent 166 partnership that is likely to unnerve India’s bowling attack ahead of the first Test on 15 November. Cook fell three short of his century while Compton looked every bit a seasoned international with 74 before being taken lbw by spinner Amit Mishra.
Their replacements didn’t fail to impress either. Jonathan Trott tallied 46 at third man before also falling to the Mishra spin; meanwhile, the marmite man that is Kevin Pietersen proved his worth to the side yet again with a resplendent 110 before retiring hurt with cramp in the hot conditions.
With Stuart Board suffering a bruised heel and Graeme Swann returning home for the next few days, Cook was relying on his top order to instil some confidence into the side and take the pressure of his bowlers. Former skipper Michael Vaughan has already spoken of the importance of the upper order leading from the front in the tough and unforgiving conditions of the sub-continent.
They certainly did this, and if Cook can inspire more high performances from his batsmen then England’s fragile bowling attack will be free from unwanted pressure to strike out India on their own turf.