Compton buils confidence for Test bow

Daily Echo: NICK COMPTON NICK COMPTON

Nick Compton will make his Test debut high on confidence next week after his third successive half-century for England.

As the tourists again found runs easy to come by but wickets significantly harder on the Sardar Patel B Ground's ultra-flat surface, their new Test opener-in-waiting added a second-innings 54 not out to his 74 two days ago.

England's struggle to bowl out Haryana lasted until teatime on day three of four in this final warm-up match, thanks largely to Rahul Dewan - who carried his bat for a near eight-hour 143.

But when they did complete the job, Haryana reaching 334, they still had a lead of 187 and therefore the notional option of enforcing the follow-on.

After spending almost 115 overs in the field under a hot sun and cloudless skies, it was no surprise they chose to bat again instead - and not much more of one that captain Alastair Cook, after his first-innings 97, decided Jonathan Trott (61no) could partner Compton in his place at the top of the order.

The South Africa-born pair did not look in the least trouble either, on the way to twin 98-ball 50s in a stumps total of 118 for none, to deal with a seam attack which had posed so few problems first time round on this bowlers' graveyard.

Compton's big stride in forward defence, and off-drive, is already a familiar sight after two weeks on tour - and his initial nought and one against India A and Mumbai A are becoming happily distant memories.

He helped to put England in position to bat on for perhaps half a session tomorrow, before Cook judges the time is right to again set about the tougher task of taking opposition wickets.

If Compton's batting has become increasingly assured, the same could not be said of his fielding and catching as he and others showed signs of weariness while Dewan continued remorselessly.

The Haryana opener edged short and wide of the slips more than once but mostly presented a broad bat in a 315-ball stay.

As England's stamina underwent an extreme yet appropriate test, for the challenges to come in a four-Test series, Compton floored one straightforward chance and Matt Prior, back on duty after yesterday's stomach upset, was also short of his best behind the stumps.

Among their bowlers, Tim Bresnan (three for 66) got more than most out of the surface but even he could not shift Dewan.

The Yorkshireman impressed as England's most likely wicket-taker yesterday, and got them under way again today when he had Sandeep Singh pushing tentatively forward and edging low to Cook at slip.

The captain was in the firing line three more times before lunch. But the ball evaded his grasp when Amit Mishra twice edged past slip and Dewan, on 87, did likewise off Jonathan Trott - a rare false shot in a compact and controlled tour de force.

Mishra was gone relatively soon anyway, turned round by Stuart Meaker and caught behind to give the Surrey seamer his first first-class wicket for England.

But Dewan remained to complete his sixth first-class hundred with a cut for his 14th four - earning the polite applause of the bowler, Monty Panesar, in acknowledgment.

Meaker (three for 74) got through Jayant Yadav's defences and knocked over off-stump and would have had a third wicket had Prior managed to hold a diving catch down the leg-side to see off Amit Vashisht for just four.

Compton put down Vashisht again at point off Graham Onions, a glaring miss but one which cost only five runs before Samit Patel got his man lbw pushing forward.

Dewan was then joined in a ninth-wicket stand of 62 by Chanderpal Saini, the number 10 belying the fact he was playing in only his second first-class match at the age of 25 after a debut just last week - until Meaker had him lbw, before last man Sanjay Budhwar was caught in the gully off Kevin Pietersen for nought.

There was still time to push for a morale-boosting win, all the more so after the unbroken century opening stand which followed.

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