• India v England, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 3rd day

Prior admits to batting shocker

George Dobell in Ahmedabad
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Matt Prior: 'There's no point sulking. We have a big second innings coming up' (ESPN is not carrying live pictures due to curbs on the media) © Getty Images
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Matt Prior admitted England had endured "a bit of a shocker" as they sunk to 191 all out in their first innings in Ahmedabad.

England's wicketkeeper accepted that his side had "underperformed" in replying to India's 521 for 8 declared, but felt they could take confidence from the start to their second innings. After being asked to follow-on 330 behind, Nick Compton and Alastair Cook reached stumps on 111 without loss, meaning India go into the fourth day leading by 219.

"We all know that our first innings was a bit of a shocker," Prior said. "To lose wickets quickly is always disappointing.

"I sat here two days before the Test and told you guys that it's all very well talking, but you have to go out there and do it. And unfortunately, first innings, we didn't do it. Simple as that. We're all honest enough to hold our hands up and say we didn't get that right.

"Everyone I know for a fact was keen to get into this Test match. The batters were keen to go out there and prove a point. We knew the wicket was going to turn a bit. Maybe we got a little bit too ahead of ourselves and a little bit panicky."

While accepting that England had underperformed, Prior was keen to defend Ian Bell who was dismissed first ball, caught in the deep, as he came down the wicket and drove to deep mid-off.

"He knows he got it slightly wrong today," Prior said. "One thing you talk about is playing your own game and backing yourself. Only Belly will know the plan he had and what he wanted to do and it didn't come off. If it had gone for a one-bounce four everyone would've said, 'what a fantastic shot, he's off and running.'

Those are the fine lines when you play sport. When it does not come off, it doesn't look great, admittedly, but you cannot question the quality and the class of a batter like Ian Bell. We all know that he's class and hopefully he'll show that. He is one of the finest batters of hitting the ball over the top that I know."

Prior insisted that there would be no recriminations in the England dressing room. Instead, he said the mood would remain constructive and England would take heart from the opening partnership in the second innings.

"We've played long enough and know each other well enough," Prior said. "There's no point sulking. We have a big second innings coming up and he'll be as motivated as any of our batters to get a big score.

"As a professional sportsman you have to look forward, look at a day and take the positives. The way Compo and Cookie went about their business this afternoon was fantastic. To end up none down at the end of the day, we'll take a huge amount from that. We're still behind in the game but it gives us a lot of confidence that we can go out and bat for a long period of time.

"In the second innings we seem to be a lot calmer. We have to take a lot from that, get our game-plans right and stick to a method. It's turning a bit and bouncing a bit, but you can bat periods of time.

"There's no point crying over spilt milk. You have to move on. We knew that we underperformed. No-one's more frustrated than the guys sat in the dressing-room, but, most importantly we went out there and are none down. That's a fantastic turnaround. We're behind the game, but fighting hard and still in the game.

"We're not going sit here and go, 'we're fantastically placed here and everything looks great.' Because it's not. We're still a long way behind the game, the wicket's turning and there is a bit of reverse swing. But what we will do is fight. And we will learn lessons from the first innings and try and make strides forward. If we do get anything from this game, that would be great. But, it's not unrealistic."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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