Cook century builds lead

A week ago, Alistair Cook was enjoying himself on the England ‘A’ tour in the West Indies. Since then, two of England’s top order batsmen have flown home, and he’s enjoyed a fantastic debut after being thrown in at the deep end.

Cook and Strauss came into bat almost as soon as the day started; just seven balls were bowled before last man Sreesanth got a questionable decision against him. With a 70-run advantage, Cook and Strauss, the last England debutant to score a hundred, progressed watchfully, not taking many chances with the new ball swinging.

But no breakthrough was made, and as early as the seventh over, Dravid brought Kumble into the attack. Kumble bowled well, asking questions of the batsmen most balls, but Cook and Strauss resisted, and both remained unbeaten at lunch.

After the break, Pathan started to find some reverse swing, and he reaped the rewards almost instantly. With consecutive deliveries, he found the edge of Bell and Strauss’ bats and Dhoni took the catch on both occasions.

Now accompanied by the flamboyant Pietersen, Cook took up even more of an anchoring role. After an uncertain start Pietersen soon got into his stride. He dazzled the crowds with his trademark aggression, but rode his luck on several occasions. He was dropped by Sreesanth in the covers and on 36 he survived an extraordinary third umpire decision. A ball from Kumble was chipped back to him and the Indians were ecstatic, assuming they had made their breakthrough. But the third umpire was called for, and after a long deliberation Pietersen received the green light, the umpire third judging it as a bump ball.

After smashing 16 off a Kumble over, Pietersen’s luck finally ran out. He top-edged a sweep to Dravid at slip, ending his innings of 87 and finally Kumble had a well-deserved wicket.

For the rest of the day, Collingwood and Cook added 76 more to England’s total, taking them to 297, a lead of 367. Both players accelerated towards the end, signalling an overnight declaration. Again, Luck was not going India’s way. Collingwood received a poor lbw decision first up, and they made a hard day even harder themselves by dropping Cook twice and Collingwood once.

Despite India’s troubles, the main man of today was undoubtedly Alistair Cook. Still just 21, he batted all but the entire day, an impressive feat of endurance. He maintained composure and patience throughout, and impressed particularly behind square on the off-side.

An overnight declaration is to be expected from Andrew Flintoff, leaving India the challenge of batting throughout the last day for a draw.

England 393
Paul Collingwood 134*, Alastair Cook 60
Sreesanth 4/95, Irfan Pathan 3/92

India 323
Mohammed Kaif 91, Anil Kumble 58
Matthew Hoggard 6/57, Monty Panesar 2/73

England 297/3
Alistair Cook 104*, Kevin Pietersen 87
Irfan Pathan 2-48

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Alex Crampton