Ahmedabad: Kevin Pietersen hit his first century since returning to the England set-up and captain Alastair Cook made 97 as the England XI began their final three-day warm-up by posting 408 for 3 on day one against Haryana at the Sardar Patel Stadium B Ground. Also cashing in on a good batting strip against a lackluster Haryana bowling attack was Nick Compton, whose 144-ball 74 appears to have ensured him of a Test debut next week, and Ian Bell after three indifferent innings on tour.
Having won the toss in Ahmedabad on Thursday, Cook led the way in a 166-run opening stand with Test hopeful Compton. Cook sat out the tourists’ second warm-up match against Mumbai A, but followed up a century against India A with 97 off 114 balls with 18 fours. Having been given a life early in his innings, Cook missed a century by three runs when he edged an attempt cut off spinner Jayand Yadav to substitute wicketkeeper Sandeep Singh.
Compton’s second successive half-century after two poor scores against India A also gave the England XI a solid platform from which the other batsman could push on. With Jonathan Trott (46) he put on 45 before being dismissed lbw to Haryana captain Amit Mishra. Mishra oddly delayed himself until after 50 overs had been bowled, but made inroads quickly. Having gotten rid of Compton in his second over, the legspinner had Trott lbw on the sweep in the 61st over.
There was further punishment for Haryana, though, as Bell and Pietersen put on 161 for the fourth wicket. Pietersen prepared himself for the upcoming Test series with a 94-ball 110, inclusive of 16 fours and three sixes, before he retired to let his team-mates get some batting practice. At stumps, Bell was unbeaten on 57 having hit three sixes and nine fours, and Test No. 6 hopeful Samit Patel on 11.
Brief scores: England XI 408 for 3 in 90 overs (Kevin Pietersen 110*, Alastair Cook 97, Nick Compton 74, Ian Bell 57*) v Haryana