Samit Patel (82) proves an able ally to his skipper after Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell fall
Prompted by the quick fall of his partner Nick Compton, perhaps in an attempt to clinch the opener’s slot for the Tests, the England captain Alastair Cook stood vigil for six hours and stamped his authority with a hard-earned century to carry his side to a satisfactory position on the second day of the three-day match against India ‘A’ at the Brabourne Stadium on Wednesday.
Cook (112 batting) showed exemplary qualities and signs of turning out to be long thorn in the flesh of the Indian bowlers in the forthcoming four-Test series.
England lost its way when Yuvraj Singh removed Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell with his left-arm spin, but Cook found an able foil in Samit Patel (82 batting), who showed the full face of the bat in defence and attack as the two put together 153 for the unfinished fifth-wicket stand and took England to 286 for four in reply to the home team’s 369.
After James Anderson won a leg-before appeal off the first ball he bowled in the morning against R. Vinay Kumar and terminated the India ‘A’ innings without a run being added to its overnight score, Cook showed technical proficiency, character and intent to shoulder heavy responsibility; he will look to sustain it in the absence of Andrew Strauss, with whom he has opened the England innings for the last six-and-a-half years.
This is the first important tour for England in the post-Strauss era, and the England captain — 82 Test matches, 6,545 runs, 20 centuries — seems to have taken it upon himself to show the way.
Cook has chosen virtually the side that will take the field in the first Test at Ahmedabad — with Stuart Broad coming in as a frontline seamer — and is primarily looking at match-time for his main batsmen from this match.
Jonathan Trott (56) was at the crease for a while, stroking the ball in front of the wicket and making a fine half-century before falling to Suresh Raina’s off break.
Pietersen (23) imposed himself upon against Raina lifting him for a straight six and hitting a back-foot four and seemed in a mood to dominate as he struck two more boundaries off Yuvraj, before offering the left-arm spinner his wicket.
Bell (5) departed soon, and England soon was 133 for four.
Cook proceeded to his half century in a quarter of an hour short of three hours with eight hits to the fence and kept the assorted bowling attack at bay.
Not for a moment — from the time he faced Irfan Pathan from the far end of the CCI club house — did he show a propensity to lose concentration against, for most part, a pedestrian attack on a surface that did not show hints of declining.
He did benefit from a ‘life’ on 88 when Wriddhiman Saha did not take control of a ‘nick’ off Yuvraj.
Patel may have been lucky when Saha spilled a tough on-side chance, but the dapper lower-order bat held his nerves for three and half hours, and hit 12 boundaries to go to stumps with an eye on a century.
India ‘A’ : 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, I. Pathan lbw b Swann 46, R. Vinay Kumar lbw b Anderson 25, A. Dinda b Bresnan 0, P. Awana (not out) 11, Extras (b-1, lb-9, w-1) 11; Total (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.
England 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: A. Cook (batting) 112, N. Compton c Saha b Dinda 0, J. Trott b Raina 56, K. Pietersen c & b Yuvraj 23, I. Bell c Raina b Yuvraj 5, S. Patel (batting) 82, Extras (b-1, lb-4, nb-2, w-1) 8, Total (for four wkts. in 87 overs) 286.
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-97, 3-125, 4-133.
India ‘A’ bowling: Pathan 13-3-45-0, Dinda 16-2-46-1, Yuvraj 16-1-52-2, Vinay 12-1-35-0, Awana 8-1-32-0, Tiwary 4-0-23-0, Raina 16-2-43-1, Vijay 2-0-5-0.