Trott ton guides England towards draw

Basingstoke Gazette: Jonathan Trott hit a century against Haryana ahead of the first Test against India Jonathan Trott hit a century against Haryana ahead of the first Test against India

Jonathan Trott bagged a century as England headed for a probable third successive stalemate in their final warm-up match against Haryana.

Trott's 101 (retired out) is England's fifth century in three warm-up fixtures before the first Test against India on Thursday. Runs have been no problem, on flat pitches, but wickets have been more of a challenge - and after a mid-afternoon declaration on 254 for seven, with a lead of 441, they had little chance of altering that trend on perhaps the least responsive surface of all.

Minor hopes were raised, however, for a morale-boosting victory when Stuart Meaker got rid of first-innings centurion Rahul Dewan for only 13 - and then Samit Patel won a second lbw verdict against Sachin Rana in the hosts' teatime 73 for two.

Earlier, England chose to bat on longer than most had expected.

They faced less than nine overs of spin for their trouble, from rookie Jayant Yadav rather than Test bowler Amit Mishra - a continued ruse, to starve them of more useful practice, which has been attributed to India's former England coach Duncan Fletcher.

Trott's first-wicket stand with Nick Compton (79) ended when the latter was caught behind down the leg-side off Rana. England's prospective new Test opener therefore fell short of a century but will still go into his anticipated Test debut on the back of three consecutive 50s.

Ian Bell came in at number three - Kevin Pietersen choosing, like his captain Alastair Cook - to allow others more batting practice after his first-innings hundred. A series of scampered singles, and two direct hits, were the nearest Haryana came to breaking the partnership as both Trott and Bell narrowly survived third umpire run-out calls.

There was then a collector's-item sighting of a Trott six, hit straight off Chanderpal Saini as he moved into the 90s, and soon afterwards he completed his four-hour century from 180 balls. With Matt Prior unluckily run out backing up before lunch, in 45 minutes of increasingly meaningless batting afterwards, England lost four wickets for the addition of 33 runs.

They could have done without ducks for previously in-form pair Patel and Pietersen, but the circumstances ensured neither would dwell on their failure for long as they prepare for the Test series.

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