Patel in frame for Test place
Samit Patel has put himself in the frame for a Test batting spot again, but still wonders at Alastair Cook's powers of concentration.
Patel and Cook made notable contributions on day two of their tour of India, Cook's unbeaten 112 the most substantial, while Kevin Pietersen's frenetic 23 was the most eye-catching.
Patel's 82 not out, however, was perhaps the most significant with a view to team selection for the first Test in Ahmedabad on November 15 - Cook's first as permanent captain, and Pietersen's first since his controversial fall-out with management last summer.
Cook and Patel's unbroken stand of 153 took England to 286 for four, in reply to India A's 369 all out, after Jonathan Trott (56) had shared a stand of 95 with the captain on the middle day of a match likely to end in a draw at the Brabourne Stadium.
Patel's performance strengthens his prospects of returning to the Test team as a batting all-rounder, in conditions which make his left-arm spin a valuable commodity too.
"It's obviously great to get a good start in the first game and a good score - I feel great," he said.
"But there's still a lot of work do do and two (warm-up) games left, so I haven't got that position yet.
"I'm getting better, and the more games I play the better I'll be."
The 27-year-old inevitably found himself speaking about Cook and Pietersen too, and duly did so in glowing terms.
"I thought Cooky played out of his skin. To bat all day is a great effort.
"Chef's character and work ethic is outstanding, and it shows in his batting.
"One of our things is to grind and grind and grind and work hard as a unit and keep India in the dirt..."
Patel is less than a month older than Cook, so has seen the opener's qualities at close quarters from early in their respective representative careers.
"Who would ever doubt Alastair Cook?" he asked.
"Determination and honesty sums up his cricket really, and I'm thrilled to bits for him."
Pietersen, by contrast, sought to dominate throughout his short innings, and was dismissed trying to continue that trend - caught-and-bowled by his old adversary Yuvraj Singh.
"I think Kev started off his innings amazingly," said Patel.
"That shows the character of the person and the player he is.
"It's fantastic to have him as a member of the team.
"I think we need that out here - a bit of oomph to get us going.
"KP does it outstandingly well, and we're glad to have him back.
"He looks in fantastic nick ... shame he got out, but it's just the way it goes."
Pietersen can expect to face Yuvraj plenty more times this winter, it turns out.
India A captain Suresh Raina confirmed his pre-determined plan to bring the slow left-armer on early in Pietersen's innings, and that Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have the same idea once the Test series starts.
All-rounder Yuvraj has had his previous successes against England's mercurial middle-order batsman, but the two have become friends too.
"Kevin came to the dressing room afterwards, and they laughed about it," said Raina.
On this occasion, one had more to smile about than the other.