Captain Cook Reaches Ton In Warm-up As KP Falls To Left-arm Spin On England Return
Captain Cook reaches ton in warm-up as KP falls to left-arm spin on England return
By [/home/search.html?s=&authornamef=Lawrence+Booth+for+the+Daily+Mail Lawrence Booth for the Daily Mail] [ ]
Published: 06:39 BST, 31 October 2012 | Updated: 11:51 BST, 31 October 2012
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Kevin Pietersen made a skittish 23 in his first innings for England in nearly three months before falling, not for the first time, to Yuvraj Singh's innocuous left-arm spin.
But it was the less glittering qualities of Alastair Cook that held the tourists together on the second day of their three-day game against India A in Mumbai.
Cook marked his first game as England's full-time captain with a typically grafting hundred to help his side to 286 for 4 in reply to 369.
And with Samit Patel underlining his claim to the Test No 6 slot with an unbeaten 82, this was a job well done. Only a third-ball duck for Nick Compton left a slight headache.
Return: Pietersen produced a swashbuckling 23 before being caught and bowled by Yuvraj Singh
England forthcoming matches in India
Tour match in Mumbai (November 3)
Tour match in Ahmedabad (November 8)
First Test - India v England, Ahmedabad (November 15)
Second Test - India v England, Mumbai (November 23)
Third Test - India v England, Kolkata (December 5)
Fourth Test - India v England, Nagpur (December 13)
There follows three Twenty20 and and five ODI matches.
Inevitably, though, it was Pietersen's 23-minute stay that focussed the attention.
Walking out calmly for his first knock as an England batsman since August 6 - when he made 12 in the second innings of the Headingley Test only two days after his barnstorming 149 - Pietersen traded a glove-punch with Cook, and went about trying to make up for lost time.
He scampered a single to mid-on from his first ball, edged seamer Parvinder Awana for four soon after, then launched his sixth delivery - from the off-spin of Suresh Raina - down the ground for six.
When the next ball was clattered off the back foot through the covers for four, a Pietersen special looked on the cards.
But he was dropped at forward short leg moments later on 16, and managed only one more boundary - a pull off Vinay Kumar - before chipping a tame return catch back to Yuvraj.
The identity of the bowler will irk him as much as the tameness of the dismissal.
Pietersen famously branded Yuvraj a ‘pie-chucker' during the tour of India in 2008-09 - but this was the sixth time his part-time slow left-armers have accounted for England's alpha male.
Just as embarrassingly, it came only three balls after India A captain Raina had brought Yuvraj on to bowl.
Slow start: Compton went for a third-ball duck
[ Click here for the full scorecard from Mumbai]
Pietersen's demise made it 125 for 3, and an all-too-familiar English meltdown against Asian spinners was brewing when Ian Bell was caught at slip off Yuvraj for five.
But Cook was in resolute mood, getting well forward on a slow Brabourne Stadium surface, and Patel immediately began driving sweetly through the covers.
Dropped down the leg-side on 29 off Awana, Patel built on the good impression he made during the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
And although the quality of India A's spinners was distinctly ordinary, Patel has made an early bid for the No 6 position for the first Test, ahead of both Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow.
Top knock: Cook celebrates reaching his ton
Cook, put down by the hapless keeper Wriddhiman Saha on 87 off Yuvraj, reached three figures with yet another leg-side single, and the pair had extended their stand to 153 by stumps.
Earlier, after Jimmy Anderson had wrapped up the India A innings with the first ball of the day, trapping Vinay Kumar lbw, Compton edged his third delivery to the keeper to depart for a duck.
Not for the first time, comparisons were odious.
Back in 1945, his grandfather Denis made 249 not out here in the Ranji Trophy final for Holkar. And he followed that a year later with innings of 91 and lost.trade 124, playing for Europeans against Hindus.
Ton-derful: Cook was in fine form with the bat as he passed 100
But Compton, having been perilously close to being bowled second ball by Ashok Dinda, duly nibbled at the next, with fatal consequences.
He may not get another chance in this game to lay down an early marker for a Test debut in Ahmedabad.
Jonathan Trott's 56 steadied England in time-honoured fashion, before Pietersen - briefly - and Cook - assiduously - pinched the headlines.
Steven Finn will play no further part in this match after picking up a thigh injury on Tuesday.
Scans revealed no tear, but England will now monitor his rehabilitation over the next fortnight in a bid to get him fit in time for the first Test, starting on November 15.
Rebuilding: Cook and Patel put on a fine fifth-wicket partnership to dig England out of a hole
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