England look no closer to solving their opener conundrum after the start of their latest warm-up game in India, but the middle order signs look good after a Jonny Bairstow century in Mumbai helped get England out of trouble to close on 338-6.
Openers Joe Root and Nick Compton are going head-to-head for the spot as Alastair Cook's new Test opening partner for the series in India, and they both started against Mumbai A at the Dr DY Patil Sports Stadium.
However, neither looked convincing as Compton made just one after a duck in his last outing, while Root at least hung around a bit long for a hard-fought 28 on his England debut.
While it still looks like there is no obvious choice for a replacement for Andrew Strauss, further down the order there are more encouraging signs with Bairstow's ton going along with runs for Eoin Morgan and Samit Patel.
England were struggling at 66-4 at lunch but Bairstow and Morgan combined for a fifth-wicket stand of 158 to dig the tourists out of trouble, before the left-hander went for 76.
Yorkshireman Bairstow went on to make his maiden first-class hundred for England before he went just before the close of play for a fine knock of 118.
Samit Patel made another quick-fire half-century to strengthen his claims on a Test spot as England closed the day on 338-6.
Cook will have been watching closely along with Andy Flower but they will not have found too much out about their opener conundrum, while Kevin Pietersen did not play but showed his team spirit by carrying on the drinks.
The day was billed as a shoot-out between Root and Compton for the spare place at the top of the order, but neither man managed to grab such a great opportunity with both hands.
Compton first followed his duck against India A on Tuesday with just a single, while Root succumbed to the last ball before lunch for a painstaking 28 which was the third wicket to fall for just 10 runs.
Compton got a good ball from Kshemal Waingankar which held its line and evaded his forward-defence to knock out off-stump, while Root was caught at short leg off the part-time bowling of captain Shardul Thakur.
Morgan and Bairstow performed admirably throughout a wicketless second session, with Morgan hitting an 81-ball 50 and helping along Bairstow - scorer of 95 and 54 in England's most recent Test match at Lord's.
Although he will most likely revert to role of understudy with the return of Kevin Pietersen, he showed he can handle himself with his 158-ball century.
Jonathan Trott had shared a half-century stand with Root before a waft at a wide one from Javed Khan brought only an edge behind, and Ian Bell's troubles continued as he added just four to the five he made in the first game before edging to the keeper from Waingankar.
But Bairstow and Morgan were up to the task, in a stand featuring just one minor moment of fortune in 40 overs when the wicketkeeper's mistimed push off the back foot did not stick in Waingankar's fingers on 56.
Thakur trapped Morgan lbw with a yorker before Bairstow edged Javed to first slip to end his impressive innings.
Samit Patel continued his fine form with another 50, in only 60 balls, and was 59 not out at the close with England looking in a strong position but still no nearer an opening batsman for the first Test in Ahmedabad on November 15.
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