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March 12, 2010
England 374 for 3 (Cook 158*, Collingwood 32*) v Bangladesh
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Alastair Cook is only keeping the England captaincy hot seat warm, but he continues to sit very comfortably in the position as he maintained his impressive tour of Bangladesh with an unbeaten 158 on his first day as the Test leader. Alongside Kevin Pietersen's much-awaited return to form, which ended agonisingly on 99 to a left-arm spinner, the pair formed the backbone of England's dominant opening-day total of 374 for 3 at Chittagong.
Cook became the fifth England captain to score a hundred in his first match in charge. The last one to do so was Pietersen although that innings, against South Africa at The Oval, feels like a lifetime ago. At last, though, there was a glimpse of the Pietersen flair as he and Cook added 170 in 45 overs, but that does have to be countered by the immensely dire quality of the bowling on offer. Bangladesh started poorly and didn't get any better, finishing the day with a series of freebies for Paul Collingwood as he eased to 32 and Cook closed three short of a new career-best.
It was thanks to the generosity of Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain, that the visitors were able to take first use of a surface that looks certain to wear and turn considerably - albeit slowly - as the match progresses. His decision to bowl will go down among the most unfathomable calls, although it smacked largely of a lack of confidence in his own team's batting than any belief that it was the best way to challenge in the game.
However, England weren't going to look a gift-horse in the mouth especially after packing the side with batting. Cook was barely troubled during his 244-ball innings as he continued his quietly impressive tour where he has maintained, and improved, his form despite the added burden of captaincy. During the one-day series there was a new-found freedom to his strokeplay and he brought that confidence into the five-day game, never typified better than when he reached his hundred from 148 deliveries with a slog-swept six. His first boundary was the same shot and it meant he doubled his tally of Test sixes in the space of an innings.
England captains who began with hundreds
A sign of the confidence in Cook's game was a return of the cover drive which he shelved in South Africa after his troubles outside off stump to the quick bowlers. However, the threat from the Bangladesh attack was far removed from that of Dale Steyn and Co. and he pierced the off side with increasingly regularity. If Andrew Strauss had woken in the early hours in the UK he will have watched contently with the team in safe hands.
But while Cook came into the match with form, it was a vastly different story for Pietersen. He entered under mounting pressure having endured another lean run since arriving in Bangladesh and a continuation of his poor record against left-arm spinners. He was soon facing Abdur Razzak, but it was a missed opportunity from Shakib when he didn't introduce himself straight away and instead stuck with Rubel Hossain after his dismissal of Jonathan Trott.
Pietersen has spent hours in the nets working alongside Andy Flower on his technique against left-arm spinners and there was a clear change in method in evidence as he stayed leg-side of the ball rather that getting squared-up. He laid an early marker with a fine inside-out drive through mid off and his footwork was far more certain.
In the final over before tea he reach fifty from 60 balls with some help from a misfield and after the break began moving through the gears with a hint of the flamboyance that has been missing since he lost the captaincy. He made a statement to Shakib by dispatching him for a six and two fours - all straight down the ground - in the space of four balls. It appeared he would blaze to three figures, but this isn't, yet, the Pietersen of old and he tried to nudge his way there which resulted in him being squared-up by Razzak.
Cook, though, motored on past 150 before shutting up shop as stumps approached. England batsmen don't score many double hundreds - there's a big one on offer here. He had been outscored during the early exchanges as Michael Carberry made a confident start to his Test career having been handed his cap alongside the Middlesex paceman Steven Finn. Carberry eased to 30 before becoming tied down by offspin and fell to an ambitious sweep against Mahmudullah.
Jonathan Trott went about his innings at his own sedate pace, but looked confident after his warm-up hundred as he added 77 with Cook. He was given out caught off the helmet from a Rubel short ball which bounced as much as anything all day. There is no UDRS in this series so all Trott could do was shake his head and it was the only thing to go Bangladesh's way. However, they didn't deserve anything else and it is already only a question of how long they can hang on in this Test.
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