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Compton all but seals opening spot

Bharat Sundaresan

Posted: Nov 06, 2012 at 0949 hrs IST

Mumbai: Suryakumar Yadav has a penchant for employing a different action each time he bowls — even if it means plagiarising on occasion. On Monday, the Mumbai A skipper morphed into Ravichandran Ashwin for a couple of deliveries. But his imitation wasn’t quite up to the mark. And it had barely any effect on Nick Compton.

In fact, Compton handled every challenge the hosts posed, including this little teaser from Yadav, without fuss. He remained unbeaten on 64, spent 214 minutes at the crease, and finally looked the part on his maiden tour as an England player. For starters, he lasted past the fifth over of the innings for the first time.

But come November 15, if the 29-year-old is sworn in as Andrew Strauss’s replacement at the top of the order — which he most likely will be — Compton will confront the real Ashwin. And numerous other trials more daunting than any he faced against the Mumbai A part-timers on a drab final day of a drawn encounter.

The new ball produced an anxious moment or two, but Compton survived. He edged his first boundary in India, a week after landing, and hit five more during his stay of 162 balls, of which he left more than he played.

In Ahmedabad, Compton will have to contend with Zaheer Khan’s guile, Umesh Yadav’s pace and the turn and bounce of Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha.

It remains to be seen how full the stands at Motera will be, but the atmosphere is bound to be rather more intense. He might face spin even while the ball is new, with a claustrophobic ring of catchers surrounding him. All this in what will be his Test debut.

If Compton doesn’t play, the same scenario will face Joe Root, the other uncapped opener, who displayed pluck while making two 20s at DY Patil.

The two first-timers in the English camp will leave the DY Patil Stadium chuffed about having shaken off their rust. But they will head to Ahmedabad realising that Mumbai provided only a rough insight into the tougher battles that lie ahead. The same could be said about the entire England camp.

batting practice

England will take back some positives from their two practice matches in Mumbai. Almost all the established batsmen scored runs. Cook scored a century, while Samit Patel and Jonny Bairstow made claims for Test spots with tons of their own.

But how much have the tourists gained in terms of Test match preparation? They might also have to confront the flip-side of playing extra practice games, with two of their lead pacers, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad,already wounded, with uncertainty looming over the length of their convalescence.

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