Ton-up Cook shines in India tour opener

Alastair Cook.jpg.crop_display.jpg

Alastair Cook began his reign as England's full-time Test captain with an unbeaten century that revived the tourists in their opening match of the Indian tour on Wednesday.

The left-handed opener was on 112 and Samit Patel made 82 not out as England fought back to post 286-4 by stumps on the second day of the three-day match against India 'A' at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai.

The tourists, preparing for the four-Test series against India which starts in Ahmedabad on November 15, are still 83 behind the 369 made by India 'A' in their first innings.

Jonathan Trott scored 56 during a second-wicket stand of 95 with Cook after rookie opener Nick Compton, grandson of former England batsman Denis Compton, failed to score.

Kevin Pietersen, playing for the first time in an England shirt since August, hit a six and three boundaries before being dismissed for 23.

Yuvraj Singh followed his 59 on Tuesday with the wickets of Pietersen and Ian Bell in successive overs of left-arm spin to reduce the tourists to 133-4 midway through the post-lunch session.

Patel helped Cook rebuild the innings with an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 153 and emerge a strong contender for a middle-order berth in the first Test.

But the 27-year-old all-rounder, a right-hand batsman who bowls left-arm spin, refused to take his place in the Test team for granted.

"There are a few more practice games to go and a lot of work left to do," said Patel, who has played two Tests so far.

"But obviously the more I play, my confidence will go up. It is all about trying to adapt quickly to the conditions in India, both with the bat and ball."

Patel said Cook's classy batting at the other end inspired him to buckle down and fight back after the middle-order collapse.

"He was just brilliant. To bat all day is a great effort and shows the man's character," Patel said of his captain, who took over in August after Andrew Strauss retired following the loss to South Africa at home.

Meanwhile, fast bowler Steven Finn was ruled out of the match due to a thigh strain, making him an uncertain starter for the first Test.

The beanpole 23-year-old pulled up with a thigh strain while chasing a ball in Tuesday's first session and had since been confined to the dressing room.

Scans did not reveal any major damage but Finn was asked to sit it out and undertake a recovery programme set out by team doctors.

The tourists are not calling in a replacement, but Finn may be required to play at least one of the two remaining warm-up matches in order to be considered for the Ahmedabad Test.

The tourists take on Mumbai 'A' in a three-day game from Saturday and play state side Haryana in a four-day match in Ahmedabad from November 8.

Brief scores:

India 'A' 1st innings: 369 (Abhinav Mukund 73, Yuvraj Singh 59, Manoj Tiwary 93, Irfan Pathan 46, Graeme Swann 3-90, Tim Bresnan 3-59)

England 1st innings: 286-4 (Alastair Cook 112 not out, Jonathan Trott 56, Kevin Pietersen 23, Samit Patel 82 not out, Yuvraj Singh 2-52)

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