The England batsmen are going to have a tough time against India's spinners if they don't show greater skills in countering spin than they demonstrated in the final practice game.
That is the inference Amit Mishra -- the only genuine spinner who bowled to the England batsmen in the warm-up games - could draw from the last game that ended in a tame draw here on Sunday.
The leg-spinner said the England batsmen looked distinctly uncomfortable playing spin, notwithstanding the huge total they managed to run up in the game.
"Most of them tried to be too aggressive against spin, stepping out most of the time. That's a sure sign of a batsman not being comfortable against spin. A more
confident batsman will come up with drives, cut, or will simply defend," he explained.
And their problems would multiply, the Haryana skipper said, if the wicket starts turning and offers disconcerting bounce. "They have very limited strokes to counter skilled spinners with a good set of variations. Stepping out and trying to hit out on a track offering turn and bounce will only get them into trouble."
Apart from stepping out to not let the spinners settle down into a rhythm, playing sweep is another option the English may resort to. "It's a good shot to employ when the wicket is not doing much and the ball is coming nicely on to the bat. But it could be counterproductive if played on a surface that's offering both turn and bounce. It's very likely the batsman will end up top-edging or edging the ball while attempting the shot on turners."
While asserting that there was no instruction from anyone to under-bowl himself (he said he injured his finger while batting and couldn't bowl in the second innings), he found nothing wrong in not giving England practice against spin. "When we toured England last year, we were given B county sides for practice games. We have at least fielded an almost full Ranji squad except for a few players who are injured," he said.
The seasoned bowler believes not having faced enough quality spin in the warm-up games will hurt England's chances. "It's definitely going to help the India spinners. It's not going to be easy at all for this English side to cope with our spinners without having played some good spin in the run-up to the first Test.”
The better news for England came from the adjoining nets. Steve Finn and Stuart Broad, who had a big question mark over their availability for the first Test due to injuries, bowled a few overs from full run-up.
“Clearly the next few days are vital for them. We have to go into the game with fully fit bowlers. We need Finny and Stuart 100 percent fit,” said Cook.
The other good news was that Graeme Swann would join the team back on Monday after visiting his ailing daughter.
The England captain chose to look at the positives rather than complain over the denied opportunity to play spin. “We can’t control the plan of the opposition. We would have liked to play more spin…. we did have a good practice in the nets.”
He said he was happy with their preparations for the series.