Mumbai: Alastair Cook became the first touring England captain to hit a century in a pre-Test series warm-up since Graham Gooch in 1992-93, as the England XI hit back from a middle-order collapse on day two at the Brabourne Stadium.
Cook was given a life on 87 when wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha dropped a catch off the bowling of Yuvraj Singh - who earlier removed Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell during the afternoon session - and batted through the day to finish not out on 112. In reply to India A’s 369, the England XI were 286 at stumps with Samit Patel having pushed his claim for the No. 6 spot in the Test side with an unbeaten on 82. Cook and Patel added 153 for the fifth wicket.
The day began with James Anderson trapping the overnight Vinay Kumar (25) without a run added to the total. The home team was then given an early boost when Ashok Dinda had Nick Compton (0) caught behind by Saha in just the second over of the England XI innings, but a 95-run alliance between Cook and Trott steadied the visitors.
Cook and Trott took the score to 77 for at lunch, with the captain more watchful and England’s No. 3 keeping the scoreboard ticking at just above three an over with a consistent flow of boundaries. From 48 at the interval, Trott progressed to his half-century but was bowled soon into the afternoon session when playing back to an offbreak from Suresh Raina, the India A skipper.
That ushered to the crease Pietersen for his first England appearance in nearly three months, and the dominating right-hander began by hitting Raina for six down the ground and four off the back foot. However, he was unable to cash in on a drop by Ajinkya Rahane at short leg and fell seven runs later, driving a return catch to Yuvraj for 23. It was another dismissal to a left-hander for Pietersen.
Yuvraj had another soon after when Ian Bell edged low to Raina at slip, leaving the England XI at 133 for 4 after 38 overs. Then came the biggest stand of the day, as Patel provided Cook some much-needed solidity. The pair staved off the Indian attack and steadily accumulated runs, with Patel’s driving through the off side and down the ground particularly impressive. Cook and Patel began slowly after India’s two slow bowlers had jolted England after lunch, but opened up in their strokeplay in the final session.
Patel too was the beneficiary of a dropped catch from Saha, when on 29, and crossed fifty without further fuss. Cook reached three figures shortly before stumps and by the close the visiting side were 83 runs behind India A.
Brief scores: England XI 286 for 4 in 87 overs (Alastair Cook 112*, Samit Patel 82*) trail India A 369 in 90.1 overs by 83 runs.