Chennai: England spin bowling consultant Jeetan Patel on Monday played down the talk about the quality of the Chepauk pitch in the ongoing second Test against India, saying "everyone knows it's going to spin when you come to the sub-continent".
The deteriorating pitch here has been a subject of intense debate with former greats like Shane Warne and Michael Vaughan sparring on social media while England assistant coach Graham Thorpe termed it "challenging" on Sunday.
"The first Test in Sri Lanka spun from ball one. We understand it all as a playing group, maybe it's an educational thing for someone outside the group but if you're in the sub-continent, wickets spin," Patel said at the media interaction at the end of third day's play.
"The ball gets softer quicker, it doesn't seam as much, so there has to be something in the wicket. Has it accelerated a bit quickly? Probably so, but that is playing in the sub-continent, like when teams come to England or other places where it seams around," he added
England were struggling at 53 for 3 in pursuit of an improbable 482 to win at the end of the third day which saw Ravichandran Ashwin score his fifth Test ton and Kohli hit a half-century.
"Of course, I think Ashwin and Kohli were fantastic. Kohli in the second innings, he got down to the ball, the way he got across the stumps. Ashwin came in and swept early and got the field he wanted.
"They (India) are in a very strong position. there's no doubt about that, we'll have to work really hard to get some of that back," Patel said.
With 429 more runs required in two days for an improbable win and a long way to go, Patel said it was about staying positive, adding if "we sit back and try to defend for two days we are not going to have much success."
"It's just about staying positive. We've got strokemakers in the group and we want them to express themselves. That's been one of the strengths in the three Test matches we have played in the sub-continent."
Patel also said young batsman Dan Lawrence "was fantastic this evening".
"It's exactly how he wants to play cricket and exactly how he can contribute to this team. So it was good to see him go," he said.
He said there were positives to be taken from the game, adding the spinners Moeen Ali and Jack Leach had done well.
"There's positives to take form every game of cricket, doesn't matter if you're on the winning side or not. The fantastic thing is Mo (Meen Ali) bowled 60 overs in a Test match and has taken eight wickets, probably should have had nine or 10.
"Jack Leach has continued his improvement, Ben Foakes has come in and impressed," he said.
Asked if England skipper Joe Root was lucky to survive an appeal for leg-before towards the end of the day which the third umpire turned down on a referral by India, Patel said he would have been disappointed if he was given out.
"Let's be honest, I would have been disappointed if it was given out. Live it looked like it was maybe outside the line but replays showed it was pretty close. But, umpire's call is close enough," Patel said.
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So subtly Pant changed the pace of his innings, that even Root didn't know what hit his team which looked in control when India went into the tea at 153 for 6.
Maybe India would have eked out their results anyway, but England will move on knowing that they could – should – have pushed India a lot closer than they did in losing the last three games by 317 runs, 10 wickets, and an innings, respectively.
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