Alastair Cook continued to flaunt his Asia-success story in the first of the Airtel Test series.
When the left-hander was thrown into the thick of action with Andrew Strauss in the first Test of his debut series at Nagpur, the budding left-hander made 60 and 104 not out against Irfan Pathan, S. Sreesanth, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
There was not much of success though at Mohali, he made only 17 and 2. This happened in March 2006.
Giving the heavy stick to many opponents including the Australians in the last six and a half years, Cook is now all set to join the pantheon of the English greats.
Two more centuries and he will become the highest Test century maker for England. Ahead of him are Geoffrey Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and Wally Hammond with 22.
He is now tied with Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss on 21. Below him are Graham Gooch and Ken Barrington at 20.
What he achieved at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium here on Sunday was rare: he scored a custom-like opener’s century, a third straight one as captain of England.
He had scored 173 in the first innings of the first Test against Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong and 109 not out in the second innings of the second Test at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur in the early part of 2010.
Cook is one among the 156 left-handers who have played in India, scored 59 centuries and 151 half centuries and compiled over 30,636 runs.
He’s not the overtly aggressive or the flashy type like Clive Lloyd, Garfield Sobers, Mathew Hayden, Neil Harvey, David Gower, Roy Fredricks, Alvin Kallicharan, Adam Gilchrist, Stephen Fleming, Saeed Anwar, but more stoical and a battler like Allan Border, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Andrew Flower.
Once Andrew Strauss retired at the conclusion of the recent home series against South Africa, the onus of leading by example fell much more on the left-hander from Chelmsford.
He has used every opportunity to get used to the conditions in Mumbai and Ahmedabad and scored centuries against India ‘A’ and Haryana, facing only a few overs from spinners. He made just 41 in the first innings but his steely determination was there for all to see in the course of his dour knock in nearly two and a half hours.
Matt Prior did not miss the point on Saturday to highlight Cook’s way of dealing with the Indian attack in the second innings. After making 304 in his previous four Tests in India, Cook made 342 runs in Bangladesh, 159 against Pakistan in the UAE and 435 runs in Sri Lanka for a total of 1240 runs with four centuries and seven half centuries. He has added some to it at Motera.
While England scored a resounding 4-0 victory in the last home series, Cook made a poor start with 12, 1, 2 and 5 before making 294 in the third Test at Edgbaston. But he has given himself every opportunity to make this tour of India most memorable; he’s squeezed many runs and a made a bright start with the willow.