England have one day left of their last warmup before the first Test. Most of the questions that England had at the start of the tour have been settled; they know who the top six are, they probably know who will replace Bell when he returns to England and although injuries have complicated the matter they have a good idea of what their attack will be. It’s been generally a very successful start of the tour overall and as a result there is not a lot left to be done tonight.
But that does not mean that tonight is irrelevant. England will resume on 118-0 in their second innings, leading by 305 after declining to enforce the follow-on last night. England have had a very good time batting in the entire match; the Haryana bowlers have been utterly ineffective and the pitch has been flat, meaning that all the batsmen have got to spend time at the crease. Getting them comfortable and confident is certainly a good thing, but the conditions in no way resemble those of the Test match and I don’t think there is a lot to be gained by batting on tonight. But what might be interesting is if England declared overnight and set themselves the task of defending 306 in a day on a flat pitch. That is much closer to a situation they might actually see in one of the Tests and might give a clearer indication of how ready the bowlers are. Tim Bresnan has been the pick of the possible replacements for Finn, but there has never been a lot of pressure. Even though this would still be artificial pressure it would be a lot more useful than bowling in an obvious draw and especially more useful than batting ad nauseam. It would also be nice to register the first win of the tour, which is worth going for.
Regardless of England’s tactics on the last day, I doubt anything will change for the first Test. The top six should be set in stone with Matt Prior at seven and it looks very likely that Broad and Bresnan will support James Anderson in the pace attack. All that remains is to get them ready for the first Test in the best way possible.