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Matt Prior happy with England fightback

Prior takes solace after fightback and claims England can still eke out a draw in India

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UPDATED:

18:27 GMT, 17 November 2012

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England did their best to put a 'shocker' of a first innings behind them as they followed on 330 runs behind against India at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

It was hard to make much sense of a day of two halves in which the tourists lurched from 41 for three to 191 all out by teatime to the spin of Pragyan Ojha (five for 45) and Ravichandran Ashwin (three for 80), yet then moved serenely to stumps on 111 without loss.

Captain Alastair Cook tried to lead from the front both times, getting as far as 41 first time round and then an unbeaten 74 at the second attempt in an unbroken century stand with debutant Nick Compton.

With two days remaining in the first Test, it is tough to work out which England will turn up tomorrow.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior is struggling to make sense of events so far, but is pinning his hopes on the belief that England have learned the errors of their ways.

Happy: Matt Prior is delighted with the way England have fought back

Happy: Matt Prior is delighted with the way England have fought back

'We all know our first innings was a bit of a shocker,' said Prior, whose battling 48 from number eight was England's best first-innings score.

'As a professional sportsman, you have to look forward – and the way Compo and Cookie went about their business was absolutely fantastic.

'To end up none down at close of play, we'll take a huge amount from that.'

Prior is both a realist and an optimist.

'We're still behind in the game, obviously, but it gives us a lot of confidence so we can go out tomorrow and try to bat for a long period of time – which we need to do,' he said.

'To end up none down at close of play, we'll take a huge amount from that.'

– Matt Prior

'I sat here two days before the Test match and said “It's all very well talking – you've got to go out and do it”.

'Unfortunately, in the first innings we didn't do it.

'I think we're all honest enough to hold our hands up and say “Right, we didn't get that right”.

'Maybe we got a little bit too ahead of ourselves, and a bit panicky.'

Kevin Pietersen was perhaps the least convincing of all, while Ian Bell's first-ball exit was the most embarrassing after he went down the wicket and was caught at mid-off.

Prior knows of old both are capable of world-class batting, and said: 'KP' is one of our main batters, but he's only one player.

'We watched Kevin batting at Headingley against (Dale) Steyn and (Morne) Morkel (last summer), at Colombo getting 150.

'But because he doesn't get runs today, we can't all fall apart.

'He's one player in a team of 11, and we all need to hold our hands up.'

Bell was anxious to dominate Ojha from the outset, but never gave himself a chance.

'Belly is one of the finest batters at hitting over the top that I know, and the one thing we talk about is playing your own game and backing yourself,' added Prior.

'Only Belly will know the plan he had … and it didn't come off.

'These are the fine lines in sport. It doesn't come off, and it doesn't look great admittedly.

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

Composed: Alastair Cook made a half century in England's second innings

'But you cannot question the quality and class of a batsman like Ian Bell. We all know, and hope he's going to show it.

'There's no point sulking. He knows he probably got it slightly wrong. But we've got a big second innings coming up, and I'm sure he'll be as motivated as any of our batters to get a big score.'

Whoever makes good on the start Cook and Compton have made, Prior believes it is still feasible to eke out a draw.

'In the second innings we seemed to be a lot calmer,' he said.

'There are no demons. Yes, it's turning a bit and bouncing a bit – but you can bat out there.

'It's certainly not a snakepit by any stretch of the imagination.

'We're still in this game. We're behind the game, but we're still in it and fighting hard. That's all you can do'

– Matt Prior

'There's no point crying over spilt milk – you have to move on.

'We knew that we under-performed – no one was more frustrated than the guys sitting in the dressing room – but most importantly, we've gone out there (again) and we're none down for 111.

'That's a fantastic turnaround.

'We're still in this game. We're behind the game, but we're still in it and fighting hard. That's all you can do.

'If we get anything from this game, it will be a fantastic effort. But it's not unrealistic.'

Ojha knows he may have to work harder to see off Bell and Pietersen so cheaply next time.

Of the former, he said: 'He has a weakness against left-arm spin. But I won't be taking him easy in this series, because he's a very good batsman.'

As for Bell, he added: 'I think when you're playing a five-day Test, and a batsman comes at you like that the very first delivery, it's a very encouraging thing as a spinner.'

Steven Finn injures thigh as Kevin Pietersen returns for England

Finn hobbles off on first morning of India tour as KP returns to England side

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

06:42 GMT, 30 October 2012

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UPDATED:

10:02 GMT, 30 October 2012

Steven Finn gave England significant cause for concern as he limped out of the attack with a thigh injury on an awkward first day of their India tour.

Finn, a key component in England's likely Test line-up here, will play no further part on Tuesday and is expected to have a scan to try to identify the source of discomfort in his right leg.

The 6ft 7in seamer aborted the second over of his second spell and had to be replaced by medium-pacer Jonathan Trott.

Comeback: Kevin Pietersen (right) returned for England in Mumbai on Tuesday

Comeback: Kevin Pietersen (right) returned for England in Mumbai on Tuesday

Comeback: Kevin Pietersen (right) returned for England in Mumbai on Tuesday

Alastair Cook's initial experience on his first tour as permanent Test captain was therefore a vexing one as Abhinav Mukund (73) and Yuvraj Singh (59) helped India A to a teatime 224 for six in this three-day match at the Brabourne Stadium.

Mukund was the dominant, but far from always convincing, force throughout the morning session – making 41 of the first 50 runs and numbering 12 fours in his 57-ball half-century after the hosts won the toss.

The majority of his early boundaries came off the edge, but the left-handed opener grew in confidence as England's troubles gathered.

Concern: Finn pulled up with a thigh injury

Concern: Finn pulled up with a thigh injury

Tim Bresnan had a hand in the first two wickets.

First, replacing Finn after his three overs with the new ball, the Yorkshireman was alert, agile and accurate enough – with an under-armed direct-hit – to run out Murali Vijay after Mukund called his partner through for a sharp single dropped into the leg-side.

Bresnan stuck to his task on a pitch of decent pace as James Anderson took a breather and then Finn went off, and was repaid when he found alarming extra bounce from barely short of a length to have Ajinkya Rahane edging a simple catch off the shoulder of the bat to gully.

Good morning: Bresnan starred for England with a wicket and a run out

Good morning: Bresnan starred for England with a wicket and a run out

Good morning: Bresnan starred for England with a wicket and a run out

Kevin Pietersen, back in an England team for the first time since his summer of discontent and subsequent 'reintegration', did the necessary with a simple catch.

It took another seven minutes, however, for Rahane's dismissal to be confirmed as the umpires – in accordance with new International Cricket Council protocol – ordered what proved to be a laborious check to rule out a no-ball.

All smiles: Pietersen looked to be enjoying his return to the side

All smiles: Pietersen looked to be enjoying his return to the side

All smiles: Pietersen looked to be enjoying his return to the side

Once under way again, Bresnan would have had two wickets in two balls had Samit Patel managed to hold on to a sharp, low catch at midwicket.

Instead, Yuvraj escaped the indignity of a golden duck as he continues his comeback following his recovery from lung cancer – and he went on to punish Patel with two fours and a six over long-on when the all-rounder came on for his first over of left-arm spin.

Star performer: Mukund hit 73 opening the innings for India A

Star performer: Mukund hit 73 opening the innings for India A

On the stroke of lunch, England at last had something to smile about when Mukund fell to a smart catch at short-leg by Ian Bell off Graeme Swann to end a near run-a-ball stand of 56.

Yuvraj stayed on the attack, milking the spinners in particular as he hit seven fours in his 50 and brought up the milestone with his third six – straight off Swann.

By then, captain Suresh Raina was gone to another Bell catch at short-leg – this time off Patel – and then Yuvraj was stumped off Swann as he went in search of a fifth maximum.

Anderson returned to deceive Wriddiman Saha with reverse-swing, playing no shot to go lbw, but the hosts were still comfortably past 200 by tea.

London 2012 Olympics: Laura Robson in tennis singles

Robson scrapes into Olympic singles thanks to Martic's late withdrawal

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UPDATED:

01:56 GMT, 28 July 2012

Olympics 2012

Even by the standards of her remarkable young life yesterday was a day to remember for Laura Robson.

In the morning she was practising at Wimbledon when Microsoft magnate Bill Gates turned up for a hit on the next court, then by teatime she had made it into the Olympic singles event courtesy of the late withdrawal of Croatia’s injured Petra Martic.

As the highest-ranked alternative player on site at 96, she was therefore placed into the existing draw, with her reward a first-round match tomorrow against world No 23 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.

Made it: Laura Robson (right) will compete in the tennis singles

Made it: Laura Robson (right) will compete in the tennis singles

Double act: Robson will team up with Heather Watson in the doubles competition

Double act: Robson will team up with Heather Watson in the doubles competition

Although the 18-year-old Londoner
lost in the first round of Wimbledon to experienced Italian Francesca
Schiavone, Safarova is unlikely to be too pleased by her change of
opponent as Robson’s left-handed serve and ball striking ability are
starting to look potent on grass.

Today with Heather Watson she tackles
the tough German combination of Sabine Lisicki and Angelique Kerber,
both of whom excelled this year at Wimbledon. Anne Keothavong is the
only home player on Centre Court today as she tackles former world No 1
Caroline Wozniacki.

England can cope without Pietersen, claims batting coach Gooch

England can cope without KP, claims batting coach Gooch

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UPDATED:

18:09 GMT, 7 June 2012

A wall of water ensured England got by
without Kevin Pietersen on Thursday – but they are already planning for a
permanent future minus their mercurial game-changer in limited-overs
cricket.

Batting coach Graham Gooch had the
luxury on day one in the third Investec Test against West Indies of
extra time to fine-tune his charges' techniques, should he wish.

Testing time: England's Kevin Pietersen has turned his back on limited-over cricket

Testing time: England's Kevin Pietersen has turned his back on limited-over cricket

After the washout was finally confirmed at teatime at Edgbaston, Gooch also found himself pondering the make-up of the one-day international and Twenty20 squads to face these same opponents and due to be announced at the conclusion of this final Test.

One name which will not be read out is Pietersen's, following his unexpected decision last week to quit ODIs and – because of a clause in his employment contract – T20s too.

Pietersen's welter of more than 4,000 one-day international runs means his restriction to Test cricket only is an obvious loss to his adopted country.

But Gooch appears sanguine about his 50 and 20-over absence, convinced there are other developing talents able to fill Pietersen's boots. 'Life moves on – one door closes, another one opens,' he said.

'You have got to look at it from a team point of view as an opportunity for someone else to make his mark, to represent his country and to win games for his country.

Upbeat: England batting coach Graham Gooch

Upbeat: England batting coach Graham Gooch

'I would personally wish Kevin all the best – obviously he's still going to play Test cricket – in whatever else he does.

'But that chapter of his career is finished now, and we have to look forward.'

Pietersen, 32 later this month, called time on his 'World Cup' career, on the back of two match-winning centuries – having been belatedly moved up to open the innings.

Gooch added: 'I look at it as an opportunity for someone else, for a young player, to grab that chance. You've got to look forward.

'I'd like to think we would find someone who can do the job, absolutely.

'I was always in favour of Kevin Pietersen opening the batting, because I am in favour of putting your best players in first in one-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket.

Washout: There was no play on first day of Third Test

Wash-out: There was no play on first day of Third Test

'Get your best players at the top of the order and give them all the overs to make an impact.'

A host of names spring to mind as possible top or middle-order batsmen to face the Windies, who are expected to push England much harder in the shorter formats than they have in a Test series already wrapped up by the hosts after victories at Lord's and Trent Bridge.

Before Darren Sammy's men can retrain their sights, though, they must try to avoid a whitewash here – possibly without the sterling services of their most reliable batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

The limpet left-hander has kept England at bay longer than most this summer, but today went to hospital for a scan on his sore side.

The Windies remain optimistic Chanderpaul may yet be fit to take part, though, a team spokesman saying: 'A day off gives him a chance to see how well he goes.'