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Monday, September 10, 2018

Alastair Cook is playing his last Test innings !!

Oval Test has been a  slow burner, which may well ignite by Tuesday night but in the meantime there have been enough subplots to keep everyone diverted. The match is progressing fast enough to avoid that modern rarity, a draw.  With two days remaining England lead by 154 with eight wickets in hand and the pitch is becoming ever more worn: a slow burner is becoming a slow turner.

What many have been writing about is the last innings of the silent opener -  Alastair Cook – he  batted in exactly the same way as in his previous 291 innings and that was very handy for England. He is  still there at the end on 46.  While Indian openers have failed – Murali Vijay already condemned and so is Dinesh Karthik, while Shikhar Dhawan & KL Rahul enjoyed reprieve after repeated failures, Ajinkya Rahana has not lived up to any reputation, no reason for keeping the triple centurion Karun Nair out ! – it is a different perspective – not too many would have noticed Keaton Jennings repeated failures.  No England opener has ever gone as many consecutive innings (18) without a half-century and, against deliveries from seamers that would have hit the stumps in this series, he is averaging just 1.33. Those are figures that wouldn't flatter an inanimate object. This was the second time in successive matches that Jennings had been out leaving a ball and he has been moved out of the slips having dropped a couple of relatively straightforward chances.  Yet he could still be on plane to England tour of Lanka !!

Alastair Cook can be intimidating with his silence and  smile.  He flashed one after absolutely middling the final ball before tea at The Oval and walked off. England finished the day 154 runs ahead. More importantly, if only for this Test, he was 46 not out. Playing his 291st and final innings, he'd got off the mark with a trademark flick off the pads and the crowd came to its feet once again. A good portion of them had been hanging out by the stairs leading up to the England dressing room after India had been bowled out for 292 in their first innings, thanks to Ravindra Jadeja's unbeaten 86. After 161 Tests, Cook has all of England waiting with bated breath. There couldn't be a better time for century number 33.

His career statistics prior to this Test is  12254 runs in 289 innings (160 tests) 32 centuries; 56 fifties at an average of 44.88 + 3204 One day runs in 92 innings !  Only Sachin Tendulkar (15921); Ricky Ponting (13378) ; Jack Kallis (13289),  Rahul Dravid (13288) and Kumara Sangakkara  (12371) are above him – and none of them are playing still.

In terms of centuries Sachin Tendulkar 51, Kallis 45, Ponting 41, Sangakkara 38, Dravid 36, Younis Khan, Gavaskar, Lara, Mahela Jayawardene (34) and Steve Waugh 32 above him.

Have seen Krish Srikkanth driving his fiat to Marina ground and V. Sivaramakrishnan & CS Suraishkumar coming in Bullets – Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Ollie Pope and Keaton Jennings arrived at Kia Oval by underground train.  When asked about crowd mobbing, Cook was to say, it is different in England than in India.

Statistically, Morne Morkel has had Cook 12 times in 19 matches while Ishant Sharma has 11 in 17 – Ishant too still has a chance to equal Morne Morkel ! ~ what Morkel cannot match is – Ishant Sharma got out to Cook in 2014 being the only victim of Cook.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Sept 2018.

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