London: Former captain Geoffrey Boycott has questioned England`s ability to play spin on the turning sub-continent pitches after they lost three quick wickets in the first Test against India in Ahmedabad.
After India declared at a mammoth 521 for eight on the second evening, opener Nick Compton, James Anderson and Jonathan Trott fell in the space of 13 balls to leave the visitors struggling at 41 for three at close.
"We haven`t really proved in our mind or in our technique that we can play spin. You can practise as much as you want, at as many bowlers as you want, in the nets, but when you`re out in the middle in a Test match there are four guys round the bat and you`re on nought - it`s a totally different game," Boycott was quoted as saying by `BBC Sport`.
"Part of it`s in the head. Everything looks alright and suddenly we`re three down. We`ve had 18 overs of England batting and we`re talking about the follow-on, which tells us everything. It`s not looking good," he said.
Compton made nine on his England Test debut before he was bowled through the gate by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who had Trott taken at short-leg after night-watchman Anderson fell in similar fashion to slow left-armer Pragyan Ojha.
Captain Alastair Cook will resume day three on 22, alongside the returning Kevin Pietersen (6).
"KP is a super player, Trott and Cook will graft and they`ve got big hearts," said Boycott. "But I`m looking at three decent players and three big question marks.
"Compton was bowled between bat and pad. Samit Patel has played well against spinners in the warm-ups but has he done it in a Test match? Then there`s Ian Bell. He was all at sea against the Pakistanis (in the UAE earlier this year), and when he goes home there`s Eoin Morgan, the left-hander who didn`t do too well in the UAE," he said.
England need another 281 runs to avaoid follow-on with three full days to play.
"We`ve got two kids from Yorkshire (Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root) - they`ve never been on tour and never seen it turn like this. That doesn`t fill me with confidence when you`re facing 520," said the former opener.