Skipper Alastair Cook [ Images ] compiled a patient, unbeaten century to lead England's [ Images ] fightback. The visitors amassed 286 for 4 in their first innings in reply to India [ Images ] A's 369 on Day 2 of the three-day tour game, at the Brabourne stadium, in Mumbai [ Images ], on Wednesday.
The left-handed opener scored 112, embellished with 13 fours, and shared a 153-run stand with Samit Patel (82) for the unfinished fifth-wicket to help the side recover from 133 for four.
Patel, who joined Cook just before tea, hit 12 boundaries in his 145-ball knock.
Cook was dropped on 88 by wicketkeeper Wridhiman Saha off Yuvraj Singh [ Images ], who claimed two of the four England wickets.
Home team skipper Suresh Raina [ Images ] had earlier provided the breakthrough, bowling Jonathan Trott (56) with a sharp, turning delivery as the batsman played back.
The disciplined knock by Cook, who came to Indian shores on the back of a fine 115 against South Africa [ Images ], and supporting roles played by Trott and Patel were good preparation for England ahead of the start of the four-Test series against India, starting November 15 in Ahmedabad [ Images ].
Cook prepared for the grind well, as he added 95 runs for the second wicket with Trott, who batted for just under two hours and hit nine fours in 95 balls, before putting on a century stand with Patel.
Cook, who slammed a monumental 294 in the third Test at Edgbaston on India's disastrous tour of England last year, was concentration personified as he eschewed risky shots before going on the offensive with some excellent drives and cut shots.
The dismissal of Trott ended a 158-ball second wicket stand with Cook though it steered the visitors close to the 100-run mark.
England then lost the wickets of Pietersen and Bell. The former struck a quick 23, inclusive of three fours and a six, before he stepped out and spooned a drive back to Yuvraj, while Bell was caught when he edged one to Raina in slips.
These two wickets fell in the space of 16 balls before Cook and Patel, who was untroubled by spin, steadied the innings.
Cook reached his hundred post-tea with a single to long-on in 314 minutes and off 207 balls. At that time he had struck 12 fours.
The England skipper and Patel, who too was dropped by Saha off Parwinder Awana on 29, later increased the tempo of scoring against the struggling home team attack which lacked a frontline spinner.
In the morning, the visitors needed one ball to terminate the India 'A' first innings at the overnight score of 369 when James Anderson [ Images ] trapped Vinay Kumar in front without the latter adding to his overnight score of 25.
The England innings started on a poor note when rookie opener Nick Compton, grandson of former England great Dennis who had played and scored a double century for Holkar against Bombay in the Ranji Trophy final at this stadium in 1943, fell for a third-ball duck against Ashok Dinda [ Images ].
Cook and Trott batted resolutely to prevent further early loss of wickets before comeback man Yuvraj and Raina shone with the ball by sharing three wickets as England floundered against the part-time spinners and then recovered in the afternoon.
India 'A' (1st innings):
A Mukund c Bell b Swann 73
M Vijay run out 7
A Rahane c Pietersen b Bresnan 4
Yuvraj Singh st Prior b Swann 59
S Raina c Bell b Patel 20
M Tiwary b Bresnan 93
W Saha lbw b Anderson 20
Irfan Pathan [ Images ] lbw b Swann 46
R Vinay Kumar lbw b Anderson 25
P Awana not out 11
Extras: (B-1, LB-9, NB-1) 11
Total: (All out in 90.1 overs) 369
Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-57, 3-113, 4-140, 5-168, 6-190, 7-300, 8-347, 9-347.
Bowling: Anderson 17.1-4-65-2, Finn 4-1-22-0, Bresnan 20-6-59-3, Trott 5-0-21-0, Swann 23-6-90-3, Patel 20-4-95-1, Pietersen 1-0-7-0.
England (1st innings):
A Cook batting 112
N Compton c Saha b Dinda 0
J Trott b Raina 56
K Pietersen [ Images ] c and b Y Singh 23
I Bell c Raina b Y Singh 5
S Patel batting 82
Extras: (B-1, LB-4, NB-2 WD-1) 8
Total: (for 4 wkts in 87 overs) 286
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-97, 3-125, 4-133.
Bowling: Irfan Pathan 13-3-45-0, Dinda 16-2-46-1, Yuvraj Singh 16-1-52-2, Vinay Kumar 12-1-35-0, Awana 8-1-32-0, Tiwary 4-0-23-0, Raina 16-2-43-1, Vijay 2-0-5-0.
Image: England captain Alastair Cook in full flow during the second day of the warm-up game against India A.
Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters