En route on day two of four, they lost the services of Matt Prior and were indebted to their hosts at the Board of Control for Cricket in India for allowing Jonny Bairstow to deputise when England's first-choice wicketkeeper succumbed to a stomach upset.
And on the flattest of batting surfaces at the Sardar Patel Stadium B Ground, it was only the brawn, and brain, of Tim Bresnan that gave them a foothold in their efforts to bowl out their hosts. The Yorkshireman claimed two wickets, but opener Rahul Dewan (77no) helped Haryana to a largely untroubled 172 for four in reply to England's 521 all out.
A temporary stand-off preceded Prior's relief, after he had left the pitch once in discomfort shortly in the early afternoon but been forced to soldier on when the umpires and match referee refused to endorse his substitution behind the stumps by a player not already involved in the match.
By the letter of the law, it was a contravention of first-class regulations. But at England's behest, and in the absence of a suitable replacement among those who started the match, the BCCI decided common sense should prevail.
During the morning, Samit Patel (66) had added England's fifth half-century as runs continued to come easy, before a late clatter of the last five wickets for 14.
That dramatic statistic was of little significance, other than to ensure England's back-up bowling attack at last had their turn to impress. Instead, they came up against the same snag which had afflicted their opposite numbers - an unresponsive pitch and some decent batting.
After Nitin Saini had been shifted by Bresnan's endeavours to find some life from short of a length, propping a catch to cover, Dewan and Sunny Singh batted serenely in a stand of 97. Alastair Cook kept attacking fields but Haryana's second-wicket pair appeared just as much in cruise control as most of England's batsmen had on Thursday.
It was Patel who broke the stand, soon after Singh had passed his 72-ball 50 with his 10th four, Jonathan Trott taking the catch at slip. Trott snapped up another low chance at second slip soon afterwards when Bresnan found the edge of Abimanyu Khod's bat in backward-defence, and Monty Panesar prised Sachin Rana out lbw.
But Dewan was not for moving, batting through two sessions and still undefeated after 182 balls spread over more than four hours.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tim Bresnan