England’s batsmen are under orders to show more “fight” after a costly session put them in big trouble against India on day two in the second Test.
Assistant coach Paul Farbrace called for more resilience as he reflected on England’s perilous 103-5 in reply to 455 in Vizag.
Joe Root (53) was kicking himself after holing out off Ravi Ashwin at deep mid-off, having earlier figured in a run out mix-up which ended in Haseeb Hameed’s departure.
England lurched to 80-5 at one stage, before Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow batted out most of the final hour.
Even so, on a pitch expected to deteriorate significantly and offer increasing help to Ashwin and his fellow spinners, it is already hard to see how the tourists might escape defeat and a 1-0 deficit going into next week’s third Test in Mohali.
Farbrace was adamant England were guilty of batting error, rather than being undone by any demons just yet in a pitch which allowed India captain Virat Kohli to hit 167 and his team-mate Cheteshwar Pujara a century too.
“We didn’t show enough fight,” he said. “Those are times when we need to show a bit more resilience and get stuck in.”
It is a case, Farbrace believes, of adapting to unaccustomed conditions against world-class bowlers before it is too late.
“That’s the skill of the batsman – working out how you’re going to play.
“International cricket finds you out quickly. There are times where you’ve got to adapt your game.
“If we are going to be successful as a team, we have to cope well in all conditions.”
On this occasion, England did not do that.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” added Farbrace.
“(But) nothing has happened today from the pitch or their bowling point of view that surprised us. What we have to do is cope better under pressure.
“We had a period today that was a bit meek and mild, and we have to cut those periods out of our game.”
He was especially frustrated after England had hit back with the ball – Moeen Ali taking three quick wickets – to stop the hosts piling up 500 or more.
“We showed a lot of skill to fight back in the morning – and to then have that period in the afternoon is pretty disappointing,” he said.
“The two at the end showed if you do apply yourself and get stuck in it does get slightly easier.”
Farbrace agreed that Root contributed to his own downfall.
He said: “A high-quality player like Joe, when he gets to 50 and gets out, is massively disappointed.
“It looks a whole lot worse when you get out that way.
“That is a time when Joe will look back and say he could have done things better.
“He does not need telling.”
There were varying degrees of mitigation for others, including Alastair Cook who was bowled early on by Mohammad Shami.
Farbrace added: “Cooky got a good ball; we had a daft run out and then that frenetic period of play when it looked like something was going to happen every ball until those two showed at the end (what you can do) if you do apply yourself.
“There have to be times when you have to change the way you play in international cricket, and that is something our players have got to learn. They have to find a way.
“There is a lot more cricket to come in this series, and we will have periods like that - and we have to cope with them.
“The best players adapt quicker than others.”
Ben Duckett failed to cover the turn from Ashwin and was bowled off-stump.
Farbrace said: “We are not panicking over him. But we know, and he knows, that he has to find a way to cope.
“It is a massive step going from playing for Northamptonshire to facing Ashwin on a wicket in India that is turning and bouncing.
“That is the nature of it. You have to be able to adapt your game - or any chink in your armoury, top players exploit it.”
Ashwin described Root’s wicket as “massive”, and confirmed he will be out to exploit Duckett’s struggles again.
“It is his first tour and he will learn a lot more as he plays on,” said the world’s number one bowler.
“I am very sure he is going to thrust his pad forward next time.
“We are looking forward to trying to play on his confusion in the second innings.”