Cricket

Fifty for Cook as England emerge unscathed in second session


INDIA TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2018

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Can Alastair Cook mark his farewell with his 33rd Test hundred? © Getty

Alastair Cook’s half-century was the highlight of a slow-scoring second session in which England’s second-wicket pair overcame struggles against the pacers and capitalised on a couple of dropped chances to add 55 runs off 31 overs.

Even as Moeen Ali played and missed several times outside off, Cook was able to make the most of an off day for Ravindra Jadeja as he registered the highest score by an opener in this series, helping England to 123 for 1 at Tea on Day 1 of the fifth and final Test at The Oval on Friday (September 7).

After a placid opening session with the England batsmen motoring along without much trouble, the Indian pacers bowled a string of maiden overs and created some chances early in the second session, only for the fielders to let them down. Having played a near flawless innings in the first session, the first real chance that Cook gave India was when he was squared up by a Ishant Sharma delivery and edged the ball to gully, where Rahane dropped the ball which came shin high.

In the very next over, Moeen was lured into playing a drive by Jasprit Bumrah and edged the ball to third slip, but Virat Kohli’s one-handed attempt was futile. Shortly after, India also lost a review for an LBW appeal against Moeen that was turned down by the on-field umpire. Kohli reluctantly went upstairs after Moeen was struck high on the pad after offering judgement to a Bumrah delivery, which replays showed would’ve gone over the stumps.

Mohammed Shami also posed questions to the second wicket pair with deliveries swinging in and away. But even as the playing and missing continued, especially when Moeen was on strike, England were able to push on. It didn’t help India that Jadeja bowled a few freebies that Cook put away to the fence as he became the first opener to register a half-century in this series, and partnered Moeen in England’s second fifty-plus stand of the innings. Although Moeen kept the Indians interested with his wafts outside off, he survived as England ensured a wicket-less session for India.

Earlier, Joe Root’s decision to bat after his fifth straight win at the toss was justified by Cook and Keaton Jennings as they got off to a steady start, with a slowish wicket aiding their endeavour. Even as Ishant hit the right channels outside off to keep the openers in check, Bumrah was wayward. England profited as Cook struck a couple of boundaries off shortish deliveries before Jennings managed his first four. The England openers, apart from being struck on the pad a couple of times, seemed comfortable against the spin of Ravindra Jadeja as well – a reverse sweep from Jennings showcasing the confidence.

Having raised a half-century stand – only the second fifty-plus opening stand for England in this series – Cook and Jennings continued unperturbed and it appeared as though the openers would get through an entire session unscathed – a rarity in this series. But that wasn’t to be as Jadeja removed Jennings with a straight and quick delivery, getting KL Rahul at leg slip into play. With Moeen getting a promotion again, Shami attempted a few short deliveries to unsettle the all-rounder but to no avail as England got through the session without any further damage before scrapping through the next.

Brief scores: England 123/1 (Alastair Cook 66*, Moeen Ali 23*; Ravindra Jadeja 1-36) vs India

© Cricbuzz

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