India v England: Matt Prior optimistic of first Test draw

Matt Prior
Matt Prior

Matt Prior is optimistic that England can salvage a draw from the first Test against India, despite ending the third day following on and 219 runs behind.

Wicketkeeper Prior top scored with 48 as England collapsed from 41-3 to 191 all out in their first innings.

Openers Alastair Cook (74) and Nick Compton (34) fared better second time round as England closed on 111-0.

"If we get anything from this game, it will be a fantastic effort. But it's not unrealistic," said Prior.

"In the second innings we seemed to be a lot calmer. There are no demons. Yes, it's turning a bit and bouncing a bit, but you can bat out there.

"It's certainly not a snakepit by any stretch of the imagination. We're still in this game and fighting hard."

Indian spinners Pragyan Ojha (5-45) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-80) did the majority of the damage in the first innings as the home side defended their 521-8 with 330 runs to spare, allowing them to ask England to bat again.

"We all know our first innings was a bit of a shocker," admitted Prior, who received decent support from Tim Bresnan (19) and Stuart Broad (25) as they put on 90 runs for the eighth and ninth wickets.

"As a professional sportsman, you have to look forward and the way Compton and Cook went about their business [in the second innings] was absolutely fantastic.

"To end up none down at close of play, we'll take a huge amount from that. It gives us a lot of confidence, so we can go out and try to bat for a long period of time."

While conceding that England were a "bit panicky" in the first innings, Prior said the players were "honest enough to say 'we didn't get that right'" and refused to blame any of the batsmen for the manner of their dismissals.

Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell were out in successive deliveries, the former bowled middle stump by a turning delivery while the latter chipped his first ball to deep mid-off after trying to hit Ojha over the top.

"Bell is one of the finest batters at hitting over the top that I know, and the one thing we talk about is playing your own game and backing yourself," said Prior.

"Only Bell will know the plan he had, and it didn't come off. These are the fine lines in sport. It doesn't come off, and it doesn't look great, admittedly, but you cannot question the quality and class of a batsman like Ian Bell."