Composed Alastair Cook the star of England's innings

 

Alastair Cook was in typically unflappable form as he batted through day two of England's warm-up match against a Sri Lankan Board XI on his way to 163 not out.

Cook has been the England lynchpin so often in the last 18 months, even in a one-day side that some argued he should not have been picked for, that his effort at the Premadasa Stadium hardly seemed out of the ordinary.

But to bat for over six and a half hours - and 294 balls - in sweltering heat and humidity in a total of 303 for eight showed mental and physical strength England will rely on in the forthcoming Test series.

While Cook's knock will please England, who lead by 134, they will be less happy with the brief time Ian Bell and Matt Prior spent at the crease as both men collected ducks.

Andrew Strauss (40) and Kevin Pietersen (39) enjoyed some success but, after struggling against Pakistan's slow bowlers, they will be disappointed at their dismissals to spin.

Cook nudged a single off the second ball of the morning to get off the mark and Strauss cut through point for four two overs later.

Strauss was looking to take on his favoured cut shot from the start, missing a couple of times but also bringing some early runs.

Cook was playing a more conservative game, but found the ropes for the first time with a punchy drive off Nilanka Premaratne.

Cook took four more off Premaratne when he offered some width outside off stump as England moved to 50 in 99 balls.

The occasional play and miss aside, Strauss and Cook looked well at ease as Prasanna Jayawardene overbowled his seamers in scorching heat.

When Jayawardene finally returned to spin, Strauss used his feet well to deposit Malinga Bandara over the top.

The skipper had looked comfortable all morning but was given lbw to Dilruwan Perera attempting to work him off the back foot before lunch.

Cook reached 50 at the start of the afternoon session, bringing up the mark in 112 balls.

His new partner, Jonathan Trott, lasted 35 deliveries and made 16 runs before he was given out lbw to Bandara.

Trott's reaction suggested he was unhappy with the verdict, but he eventually walked off to be replaced by Pietersen.

England's number four found the boundary from the fourth delivery he faced and then moved down the track to hit the same bowler, Perera, back over his head for four more.

He continued to add momentum to the innings, sweeping another boundary off Perera as Cook accumulated steadily at the other end.

The third-wicket pair eased England past their opponents' total but off-spinner Sachithra Serasinghe responded with two wickets in three balls.

First he halted Pietersen's entertaining knock at 39, then he bowled Bell for a two-ball duck.

Like Trott, Pietersen was visibly unhappy with his decision. Bell, having struggled badly against spin against Pakistan, simply seemed confused.

Cook had to endure a delay in the field on 98 but he was not about to let his hard-won century slip and waited calmly for the chance to whip one into the leg-side for three.

He had taken 220 deliveries to reach three figures, hitting six fours.

As soon as he had celebrated he immediately set about playing - and running - more aggressively.

But although he may have been ready to let someone else spend some time in the middle, he was the only man who was struggling to get out.

Ravi Bopara was lbw to Perera for 12 and Prior lasted just three balls before Kaniskha Alvitigala had him caught off the inside edge.

Bandara then accounted for Graeme Swann (six) and Steven Finn, who allowed a googly to crash straight into his pads for nought.

Cook looked on from the non-striker's end and carried on nudging his own total along while number 10 James Anderson put a hold on the collapse.

By stumps Cook was scoring with freedom, with Anderson unbeaten on 12.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



PA
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor