Cook leads England's reply with patient century

Mumbai: Skipper Alastair Cook compiled a patient and unbeaten century to lead England fightback as the visitors reached 286 for four in reply to India A's 369 on day two of their three-day warm up game, here on Wednesday.

The left-handed opener struck 112, embellished with 13 fours, and shared a 153-run stand with Samit Patel (82) for the unfinished fifth wicket to help side recover from 133 for four at the Brabourne Stadium.

Patel had joined Cook just before tea, and has hit 12 boundaries in his 145-ball knock so far.

Cook was dropped on 88 by wicket keeper Wridhiman Saha off Yuvraj Singh, who claimed two of the four England wickets.

Yuvraj, who scored a fine 59 yesterday, dismissed Kevin Pietersen (23) and Ian Bell (5) in successive overs.

Home team skipper Suresh Raina had earlier given the breakthrough when he bowled Jonathan Trott (56) with a sharply turning ball as the batsman played back.

The captain's knock by Cook, who came to Indian shores on the back of a fine 115 against South Africa, and the supporting roles played by Trott and Patel were good preparations for England ahead of the start of the four-Test series against India starting on November 15 in Ahmedabad.

Cook prepared for the hard grind well as he added 95 runs for the second wicket with Trott, who batted for just under two hours and hit nine fours in 95 balls, before putting on a century stand with Patel.

Cook, who slammed a monumental 294 in the third Test at Edgbaston on India's disastrous tour of England last year, was concentration personified as he eschewed risky shots before going on the offensive with some excellent drives and cut shots.

The dismissal of Trott ended his 158-ball second wicket stand with Cook though it steered the visitors close to the 100-run mark.

England then lost the wickets of Pietersen and Bell.

The former struck a quick 23 with three fours and a six before he stepped out and spooned a drive back to Yuvraj, while Bell was caught when he edged one to Raina in slips.

These two wickets fell in the space of 16 balls before Cook and Patel, who was untroubled by spin, steadied the innings.

Cook reached his hundred post-tea with a single to long on in 314 minutes and off 207 balls. At that time he had struck 12 fours.

The England skipper and Patel, who too was dropped by Saha off Parwinder Awana on 29, later increased the tempo of scoring against the struggling home team attack lacking a frontline spinner.

In the morning, the visitors needed one ball to terminate the India A first innings at the overnight 369 when James Anderson trapped Vinay Kumar in front without the latter adding any run to his overnight score of 25.

The England innings started on a poor note when rookie opener Nick Compton, grandson of former England great Dennis who had played and scored a double century for Holkar against Bombay in the Ranji Trophy final at this stadium in 1943, fell for a third-ball duck against Ashok Dinda.

Cook and Trott batted resolutely to prevent further early loss of wickets before comeback man Yuvraj and Raina shone with the ball by sharing three wickets as England floundered against the part-time spinners and then recovered in the afternoon.