First up, let's take a look at some statistics from Saturday's play. One, the little-known Haryana batsmen thwarted England for 113.4 overs, the longest the visitors have been made to stay on the field in the three warm-up games. Two, opener Rahul Dewan hammered an unbeaten hundred (143) against
an attack that had four bowlers with Test experience.
Quite telling when seen in isolation, the numbers become even more remarkable in the larger context as it gives a glimpse of what lies ahead for the visitors. While not taking anything away from Dewan's effort, the England bowlers will come up against batsmen far more accomplished than the Haryana opener in the Tests. And the surface will be even less generous to the seam bowlers, England's strength, than the one rolled out for this game.
Now, it could be argued that the attack the Haryana batsmen handled with such ease isn't Engl-and's first-choice and hence not much should be read into their rather listless show. Just to get a better perspective into England bowling effort, here's another stat: this Haryana side was bowled out for just 55 in their last Ranji Trophy game by Vidarbha, prior to this warm-up game.
Coming back to the point of this not being the first-choice attack, it's possible that England might be forced to field a couple of bowlers from this game in the first Test, given the question mark on as many as three frontline bowlers.
While Steve Finn and Stuart Broad are nursing injuries and hope to recover in time, there is no word on Graeme Swann after he rushed home to be with his ailing daughter. And if a couple of them indeed go on to play the first Test, they won't be heading into it with much confidence.
Dewan, the unbeaten centurion, however, had some comforting words for the English attack. "They all bowled well… it's just that the wicket had gone pretty flat. So, that's why it wasn't too difficult to handle them," he said.
Meanwhile, after dismissing Haryana in four sessions for 334, Haryana continued with the minimum-spin policy, especially to the top order. So much so that even when the regular seamers had tired, they threw the ball to Abhimanyu Khod, a batsman who bowled the first over of his first-class career, instead of the spinners.
As a result, Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott helped themselves to half centuries, gorging on what's at best a pedestrian pace attack.