Captain Cook sets the standard
Alastair Cook led by example with an unbeaten century on day two of England’s opening tour match in India.
At the start of his first tour as England’s permanent Test captain, Cook displayed his famed powers of concentration and discipline to give his side the upper hand against India A at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium.
The hosts, whose first innings was brought to an end at 369 with the first ball of the day, looked to be taking charge when Yuvraj Singh struck in successive overs to leave England 133 for four.
Cook then found a willing ally in Samit Patel, who contributed 82 to an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 153 that enabled England to close 83 behind without further loss.
Jonathan Trott also made a significant impact with 56 after debutant Nick Compton had fallen for a third-ball duck.
Yet it was Cook and Patel who ultimately took top billing, with the opener’s only moment of concern coming on 87 when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off Yuvraj, who assumed the role of senior spinner in the absence of a frontline slow bowler.
Saha also reprieved Patel down the leg side on 29 and the Nottinghamshire all-rounder, driving beautifully at times, took full advantage by moving within sight of a century.
The second day of three started with India A electing to bat on, only for James Anderson to swing his first delivery into the pads of Vinay Kumar to win an lbw verdict.
Compton lasted little longer than Vinay when England began their reply; the Somerset batsman pushed forward at the third ball he faced and was caught behind off Ashok Dinda.
An assured Cook, unfussy as ever during his stay at the crease, and Trott steadied the ship with a valuable partnership of 95.
Trott’s play through the off side was particularly impressive, but he was bowled shortly after lunch when playing back to Suresh Raina, who was duly clubbed down the ground for six by new batsman Kevin Pietersen.
England’s number four collected three more boundaries in an energetic cameo before providing Yuvraj with a return catch.
There was further success for the left-arm spinner in his next over as Ian Bell edged to slip, but India A were unable to make another breakthrough.
Having been given a life by Saha, Cook brought up his hundred in typically understated fashion by working opposite number Raina for a single to mid-off.
By that stage, Cook and Patel had moved England into a healthy position and the latter had a wonderful opportunity to follow his skipper to three figures.