Battling Cook’s ton marred by late dismissal

England captain Alistair Cook.
England captain Alistair Cook.
0
Have your say

Alastair Cook made his first Test hundred for almost two years as England battled back from the loss of early wickets in the third Test against the West Indies.

But Joe Root failed to achieve a magnificent seven.

Yorkshire batsman Root was attempting to become the first Englishman to pass 50 in seven successive Test innings and in the process match a world record.

But having looked in sublime touch as his team-mates toiled in Bridgetown, he pushed at a wide delivery from spinner Veerasammy Permaul on 33 and got a thin edge to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.

Cook’s wait to extend his national record to 26 Test tons had stretched back 35 innings to May 2013 and, despite a recent run of half-centuries, his form had long been under question.

But, having seen his side fall to 38-3 in Bridgetown, Cook batted until the final over of the day, when he under-edged Marlon Samuels to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin to depart for 105 and bring about the close of play four balls ahead of schedule.

He had seen his side to 
240-7, but much more work will be needed today if they are to make the most of captain Cook having won the toss.

Cook had made it five half-centuries and a ton in nine Test innings – not too bad for a player whose perceived lack of form has been discussed at length – and enjoyed a useful partnership with Moeen Ali.

Only 25 overs were bowled during a ponderous opening session at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown but that was enough for the hosts to dismiss both Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell for ducks as well as Root’s Yorkshire and England colleague Gary Ballance for 18.

Cook won the toss and elected to bat, but the West Indies were given early impetus when Shannon Gabriel extended Trott’s miserable return to Test cricket by removing the opener in the second over.

Trott had retained his place in the side despite making just one score of note in the first two matches – 59 in the first innings at St George’s – but Gabriel’s short and fast delivery exposed familiar weaknesses as he spooned the ball up to square leg where Permaul took an easy catch.

Cook took advantage of two short balls from Jerome Taylor, swatting both to the leg-side boundary, before Jason Holder and Marlon Samuels were introduced to the home side’s attack.

Ballance hit the first six of the day in the 15th over, hooking Samuels high over mid-wicket, but the in-form left-hander’s innings came to an abrupt end five balls later when Holder removed his middle stump with a fizzing inswinger.

That brought Bell to the crease at 38-2 and the experienced No 4 lasted just five balls before chipping a return catch to Holder.

Under pressure, England were counting on the in-form Root and he whipped Holder’s full delivery off his legs to score his first boundary of the day, looking untroubled before lunch.

Cook also seemed to be finding his rhythm although the England captain was made to sweat when he clipped to short leg, but umpire Billy Bowden judged the ball to have hit the ground before the ‘catch’ was taken by Jermaine Blackwood.

Root moved past 30 with two swept boundaries in the space of three Permaul deliveries – but the left-armer struck the decisive blow in their battle to bring Moeen to the wicket.

The Worcestershire all-rounder brought England’s 100 up with an off-balance, but cleanly-struck four over long-on.

Home captain Ramdin wasted a review on an lbw appeal against Moeen, who was clearly struck outside the line by Samuels’s delivery.

England were 115-4 at the afternoon drinks break, with Cook on 49, and he steered Samuels past slip for two to reach a third successive half-century and a sixth in his last nine Test innings. It came in 139 balls and featured seven boundaries.

A huge caught-behind appeal against Cook was turned down, the ball from Gabriel maybe flicking the top of the left-hander’s pad.

His stand with Moeen, who had established himself nicely on 37, had advanced to 60 when tea arrived with England 151-4.

Moeen reached his own half-century with a six, imperiously slog-swept off Samuels, but was run out for the second innings in succession when Cook chopped a cut to backward point and called for a single that was never on.

Debutant Shai Hope fired in over the stumps and Ramdin took the bails, with Moeen so far short of his ground umpire Billy Bowden sent him on his way for 57 without recourse to the third umpire.

A record-breaking unbeaten first-wicket stand from Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes helped Bangladesh fight back against Pakistan on the penultimate day of the first Test in Khulna.

The pair hit centuries and shared a Bangladesh record first-wicket Test partnership of 273, which bettered the previous best of 224 they set against Zimbabwe in November. Tamim (138 not out) and Kayes (132no) batted for the full day to leave Bangladesh just 23 runs behind the tourists’ mammoth first-innings total of 628 with all of their second-innings wickets in tact.

The pair will resume today 142 runs behind Test cricket’s highest opening stand, set by South Africa’s Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie, coincidentally against Bangladesh, in 2008.

Pakistan, having resumed on 537-5, lost their last five wickets for 91 runs in 21 overs yesterday morning to achieve a first-innings lead of 296.

Asad Shafiq (83) and Sarfraz Ahmed (82) continued where double centurion Mohammad Hafeez left off, but Taijul Islam 
(6-163) helped to limit the damage.