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Sports

AFP
September 7, 2018
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Cook hits fifty in final Test as England start solidly against India

Sports

AFP
Fri, Sep, 18

LONDON: Alastair Cook marked his final Test appearance with the first fifty by an opening batsman on either side this series as England frustrated India at the Oval on Friday.

England were 123 for one at tea, after winning the toss, on the first day of the fifth Test.

Cook was 66 not out and fellow left-hander Moeen Ali 23 not out.

Both batsmen were dropped on their respective lunch scores of 37 not out and two not out.

The pair had so far added an unbroken 63 in an attritional 25 overs.

Meanwhile India paceman Mohammed Shami (none for 27 in 16 overs) was unlucky to repeatedly beat the duo with a succession of leg-cutters, none of which took the outside edge.

Cook, England´s all-time record Test run-scorer, was making his final appearance at this level before international retirement.

The 33-year-old opener, who will continue to play for Essex, came into this match having scored 12,254 Test runs at an average of 44.88 including 32 hundreds.

But he has struggled for runs lately, with his previous best score this series the 29 he made during India´s 203-run win in the third Test at Trent Bridge.

Cook, extending his England appearance record to 161 Tests, was thrust straight into the action when Joe Root, his successor as England captain, opted to bat first after winning the toss.

England had already won this five-match series after a 60-run victory at Southampton, completed on Sunday, gave them an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Cook, who walked out to a guard of honour from the India team, was soon into his stride with two trademark boundaries off successive balls from fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah -- a square-cut followed by a pull.

But this innings also saw him displaying his familiar powers of concentration.

Keaton Jennings, under pressure for his England place, had made just six when he was hit on the helmet after taking his eye off a short all from Ishant Sharma.

He nevertheless helped fellow left-hander Cook compile England´s best opening stand of the series.

But when Jennings had made 23, with England 60 for one, he carelessly turned left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, recalled in place of the unfit Ravichandran Ashwin, straight to KL Rahul at leg-slip.

Cook hadn´t added to his lunch score when he edged Sharma low to gully, where Ajinkya Rahane dropped the catch.

India captain Virat Kohli then floored a far more difficult chance at third slip after Mooen had flashed hard at Bumrah.

Cook cut Jadeja for four to go to 49 before completing a 139-ball fifty, including six boundaries, after more than three hours at the crease, with a capacity crowd giving him a standing ovation.

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